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With the exception of a quick hug, participants in opposing rallies confronted one another without physical contact in downtown Salt Lake City on Sunday.
The Global Human Rights Torch Relay demonstration, held on the west side of Washington Square Park, was designed to inform the world and stop human rights crimes in China while also protesting the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
A block away, at Salt Lake City Library Square, members of various Chinese groups had gathered in support of the Beijing Olympics. The groups clashed when the human rights group marched east on 400 South past the entrance to the library.
The situation escalated enough that Salt Lake City police officers had to position themselves between the groups, leaving most of the conflict to finger-pointing and accusations.
This was all preceded by a man in Washington Square Park who was wearing a wool hat in the color of the Tibetan flag. He approached, and then gently hugged, a man who held a sign claiming that a local Tibetan organization was a terrorist group.
"No contact," was the only response from the man holding the sign.
The majority of people participating in the Human Rights Torch Relay were there in protest of recent and historical actions by the Chinese government in Tibet.
"Every day we have to fight to wake people up about what is happening and what has happened in Tibet," Tenzink Tsering, a 23-year-old woman from Salt Lake and political science student at the University of Utah, said during the march. "The Olympics are a good platform for us to stand up against the Chinese government. We are not against the Chinese people or the Olympics. We only want the Chinese government to improve human rights in Tibet."
After the four-block march, the relay group returned to hear speeches from local politicians and hear songs and poems on human rights, but participants seemed most charged by the words of Kai Chen, a former member of the Chinese national basketball team.
Chen used the popular American history saying "Give me liberty or give me death" from Patrick Henry in 1775 as an example of what should be done to ensure human rights across the world.
"Not once in my life over there was I treated as a human. I was only used by them and they used my love for basketball as hostage against my freedom," Chen said.
Chen called the communist rule in China "slavery of the soul."
Over at Library Square, dragons were dancing and Beijing 2008 Olympic shirts were proudly displayed.
Zemin and Qin Zhon, Chinese students at the University of Utah, were proud to support the Olympics in Beijing and said they do not agree with the accusations of human rights injustices in Tibet.
"Life is different than it was before [for Tibetans]," Zemin said. "Everyone's life is very good in Tibet."
Yifan Shi, also a Chinese student at the University of Utah, was handing out fact sheets about Tibet.
"Both sides should realize there are some problems," he said. "Talk and peace is the way to go about making changes."
But peace was broken at the end of the rallies. Some participants in the Global Human Rights Torch Relay event wandered to the other side of the City-County building and taunts were quickly exchanged across 200 East.