Today seemed like an auspiciously lovely day, with azure blue skies, dotted with lacey cloud formations: cool and breezy. We opened with our kick-off event in San Francisco, on the wide green lawn in front of City Hall. City Hall's gold dome gleamed brightly in the sun. We had about 50 practitioners join us, and a showing of about 10 members of the press, most of them Chinese. We were told that some spectators came to join us to express support, having seen the press release.
There was a large tour bus ("Shangri La"), and two large vans filled with Chinese tourists, to whom we supplied information. Off to the side, practitioners were busy putting the final touches of colorful messages on the van. Another group of practitioners were busy filming with their camcorders. A group of practitioners were in the center, diligently practicing the exercises. During the program, a sole picketer carried a sign reading "Impeach Polk." He would wander in front of the camera and mingle amongst the practitioners. After a practitioner spoke to him, he drifted away (no doubt, the power of righteous thoughts)! Adam read our press statement, which was followed by two practitioners reading their accounts of being persecuted in China. Yang Li, a pediatrician, gave her account of a month's worth of cruel treatment in a Chinese prison. Christina Lin, age 11, told of how her dream vacation escalated into a nightmare when she and family members were abruptly arrested and detained.
We had occasion to clarify the truth to bystanders about the persecution in China. An older black man, wheeling an oversized shopping cart filled with what may have been his worldly possessions, came up to me and said he had heard about the 14 or so women that had supposedly committed suicide with bed sheets. I explained that they had been tortured to death, and that the Chinese government was trying to cover up that fact. He gave me a knowing look, nodded his head, and then repeated, "tortured to death." Overall, people were quite receptive to accepting materials and hearing more about the persecution.
We then headed for Sacramento, where it was considerably warmer, but the same friendly skies greeted us. The rotunda of the Capitol building was a dazzling white; the clarity of the atmosphere was breathtaking. Our picture gallery was positioned at the top of the spacious expanse of stairs. Practitioners were seated in formation on the plush green lawn in front. A feeling of overwhelming gratitude came over me, that we had been graciously permitted to assemble here to clarify the truth in such a prestigious place. Many people were touring the Capitol building, and kindly accepted our materials. One older Chinese gentleman was in a wheelchair, accompanied by his daughter, whom he said had been active in the pro-democratic movement on Tiananmen Square. He kept reiterating how good Falun Gong was, and handed me an article he had written that had been published in a Chinese paper, about the injustices toward Falun Gong. I told him I would keep in touch. There were numerous media contacts, including one from CBS, the station that has been most faithful in covering the DC Walk thus far. The press statement was read, and Yang Li's testimony was given.
Afterward, we stopped for a lovely dinner in Sacramento. Conversation was lighthearted. Ten practitioners from the Bay area have joined us to go to Reno, where we will have events tomorrow. (There are 13 in our group.) As I write this, we are on the road to Reno. Many on the road are noticing our vans. We have also been reading aloud to ourselves from "Essentials for Further Advances" while driving. It's dusk now. The sunset is streaked with vibrant pink. We're stopping for gas, and handing out information in the process. Soon we'll be in Reno, to settle down for the night. We are grateful for a rich beginning to our trip, and for having the opportunity of helping to clarify the truth to the kindhearted people we meet along the way.