Blue Flower

Written by Admin   
Dec 20, 2007 at 12:00 AM

By Kenneth Todd Ruiz, Staff Writer, Pasadena Star News, Article Launched: 12/18/2007 10:14:10 PM PST
PASADENA - Citing security concerns, Police Chief Bernard Melekian on Tuesday rejected a proposal by critics of China to precede the Tournament of Roses parade with a human-rights march down Colorado Boulevard.


The decision was made during a morning meeting of Tournament officials, the chief and John Li, head of Caltech's Falun Gong club, which has opposed a float linked to the People's Republic of China's in the internationally televised Rose Parade.

"We gave him a variety of options," Melekian said. "The proposal they put forward didn't work for us. There were some significant security issues."

Li and other critics of China's human-rights record proposed allowing a 100-person marching band and a Human Rights Torch Relay about two hours before the parade.

More significantly, they said, they won the Tournament's support for what could have been the first such procession before the tradition-steeped parade.

"Everything was settled until Bill Flynn presented the timesheet to the Police Department," Li said of their detailed proposal.

Li said the proposed demonstration was supported by Tournament officials, such as President C.L. Keedy and Flynn, the organization's chief operating officer.

Tournament officials declined comment Tuesday.

Accommodating a band, a double-decker bus and other vehicles inside the security zone on Jan. 1 was unworkable, Melekian said.

Melekian said he offered threecompromise options, including scaling the event down to one vehicle with the runner or holding the full event on Dec. 31. Li rejected those options, he said.

In October, the City Council held a meeting to address concerns of various groups objecting to China's human-rights record and that the country was using the parade to polish its image in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Several groups asked the city last month for permission to host an event before the parade that would accommodate a human-rights message.

Ann Lau, who heads the Visual Artists Guild, questioned the security objections and said the decision seemed politically motivated.

"Someone told me at the start of this that they're going to string us along, through two months of commission meetings and delay," she said.

Lau accused Mayor Bill Bogaard, who supported China's float entry, of influencing the decision.

After speaking with the mayor Tuesday, Melekian said that assertion is "just flat wrong" because the human-rights march would be a separate event and increase the burden on his officers and other law enforcement.

China's float is being paid for by Avery Dennison and an association of Chinese-American organizations.

Organized as the Pasadena Coalition for Human Rights, those protesting the float have demonstrated competing philosophies.

Lau has taken more provocative action, leading a protest Sunday from City Hall to the mayor's home, shadowed by police along the way.

Li once served on Pasadena's commission for its Chinese sister city in Beijing and has had several meetings with representatives of Avery Dennison and the Tournament of Roses.

His group has spent $10,000 on the proposed demonstration and invited celebrities to participate, Li said.

Melekian said he has no information about security risks associated with China protests.

"There's no concern about violence at this time," he said. "I suspect that there may be some form of demonstration, but nothing completely out of the ordinary, as long as they don't interfere with the parade and obey all the appropriate laws."
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4444