Hand in Hand

Never mind lethal injection, there's lots of Olympic spirit here

Michael Sorrell, a spokesman for the city's bid committee, which calls itself Dallas 2012, appeared at the scene. When asked if there was a problem with the protesters' presence, he said there was not. "The death penalty is something Dallas 2012 is concerned about," he said. "We welcome their opportunity to speak."

Sorrell, along with other red shirts, briefly chatted with the police officers. Soon, the squad cars drove off and the mounted officers trotted away to a shaded spot beneath a tree. The protesters were allowed to stay. And then the delegation arrived. The visitors, escorted by Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, stood and smiled outside Hall of State while a choir welcomed them by singing "Our Time to Shine."

Behind the choir, the red shirts gathered along with the protesters, who hoisted their signs for the delegation. The eye-for-an-eye volunteer offered a suggestion. "They need to move up front and keep those protesters in the back," he said. The idea caught on, and the staffers stepped forward, erecting a red wall between the delegation and the choir. None of this interrupted the choir, which sang, "Hand in hand. Hand in hand. We will make it happen."

Dorit Rabinovitch

Days later, Dallas 2012 President Richard Greene says he doesn't know who made the decision to call off the police at the event, but it wasn't his organization. Greene also downplays the lack of public turnout, claiming the event was not a public rally at all but a chance for other cities to show themselves off to the delegation. As far as the protesters go, he doesn't see how local and international opposition to the death penalty is relevant to the effort to attract the games. He does, however, understand that the Olympics is an event that attracts protesters, and, if Dallas is named host city, Dallas will be ready for them.

"That's one of the reasons," Greene says, "why there's such a great deal of emphasis on security when it comes to hosting the games."

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