Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bags Searched on Golden Gate Bridge

Protest: Tibet activists hang up banners on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Photo: Reuters

Golden Gate Bridge officer Tino Molossi peeked into Ryan Delapina's bag before allowing him to cross the bridge, then smiled broadly as a twitchy Chihuahua named "Buster" popped its head out.

"OK, looks fine to me," Molossi said Tuesday, the first day bridge officials began checking the bags of all pedestrians and bicyclists crossing the span. The move came after three protesters Monday climbed the bridge's suspender cables and erected huge banners to draw attention to the plight of Tibet.

The banners and climbing equipment were hidden in one or more baby carriages, officials said.

And with the Olympic torch making an appearance Wednesday in San Francisco, bridge officials are wary of more protesters as world attention focuses on the region.

"We will check any bags or backpacks," said Mary Currie, bridge district spokeswoman. "This will be a full-time thing for now, like you see going into ball games."

The searches will likely last through Wednesday, then will be reviewed, Currie said.

"If you decline to have (your bag) checked, you won't be allowed on the sidewalk," Golden Gate Bridge Sgt. Bill Sangregory said.

A march sponsored by the Buddhist Peace Fellowship to support Myanmar (Burma) is also planned for the Golden Gate Bridge from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday and that group, expected to be clad in red, will be asked to leave any bags behind.

The searches caused slight delays, but officials said most people were cooperative.
Molossi said his day had been uneventful.

"We are looking for anything out of the ordinary, signs, banners and God forbid, anything worse than that," he said. "So far I have seen a lot of lunches and work clothes."

This is not the first time bags have been searched. After the 9/11 attacks, the span's walkways were closed for almost three weeks. Once they were re-opened, bags were checked for another two weeks, Currie said.

No particular reason why, this story just made me smile. This is NOT me saying I enjoy additional paranoia on the end of government officials. If anything props to the Tibetan supporters for getting their message across.

More creative displays = more media coverage of your cause.

We should learn from them.


Yesi King said...

you read my mind:)

Anonymous said...

i am a little more skeptical of the effect of this act of protest. Yes it did bring attention & it was creative & somewhat breathtaking - but did it really help their cause? first, people thought they were terrorists. they caused a lot of disruption on the bridge. they awoken people's fears about terrorists attacking the bridge, leading to draconian measures like searching people's bags.

did the good outweigh the bad? in this case, i dont know.