Apple tossed at Dalai Lama during S.F. visit

The Dalai Lama’s relatively peaceful visit to San Francisco last weekend took an adventurous turn when a man reportedly tried to fling an apple at the exalted religious and political leader. The San Francisco Police Department reported that it took a man into custody after he lobbed an apple at the Tibetan Buddhist leader during his appearance, at which he spoke on “creating positive change.”

Born Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama is considered by his followers to be the 14th incarnation of the Buddha of Compassion, as well as the leader of the exiled Tibetan government. The winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace prize, the Dalai Lama was in San Francisco for three days to lecture and teach.

An auditorium staff member reported the Dalai Lama reacted with good humor to the over-enthusiastic fan. Before allegedly lobbing the fruit, the man stood up in the crowd and began shouting, said Kendal Smith, spokesman for the Diplomatic Security Service, a federal agency.

“He said he had a message for his holiness,” Smith said. “He was approached by agents and told to sit down because he was being disruptive in the crowd. Our agents were watching him, of course, and he began walking toward his holiness, who was on the stage at the time.”

As agents approached him, the man lobbed the apple underhand, San Francisco police Sgt. Steve Mannina said. But security agents batted it away before it could reach the Dalai Lama. The man was immediately subdued and taken into San Francisco police custody, Mannina said. He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital for evaluation, but has not been charged with a crime.

Norbu Tenzing, vice president of the Himalayan Foundation, said the man was young, and Smith said he may have been a student. Police did not release his identity.

amartin@examiner.com

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