Friday, 3 October 2014

Civilized Protest Turns Ugly

Police try to quell scuffles between protesters and anti-Occupy people
The civilized community atmosphere of the Occupy movement has now devolved into chaos, with pent-up frustrations spewed out in the form of ugly rants, accusations, pushing, shoving, and destroying supply tents. As far as we know one man sustained injuries to his head.

How did it come to this?

Everyone is now on edge. This morning on the sixth day, the occupied areas did not have a lot of protesters in them and there were concerns the police would take back some streets, particularly Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay.

Some contract government workers were prevented by protesters from coming into the Central Government offices to do their work from cleaning to administrative duties. And to give a negative impression of the protesters, the government announced these workers couldn't get to work so they would be released for the day. These workers condemned protesters for not allowing them to make a living, while others broke out in tears.

Questionable characters try to tear down tents in Mongkok
Causeway Bay practically became back to normal -- with more shoppers on the streets than protesters. The police began removing some of the barricades, but they are still pretty much in place.

But by afternoon Mongkok became the scene of heightening tensions as anti-Occupy people -- residents or otherwise started shouting matches -- in heavily accented Cantonese or even Putonghua -- with protesters. It then escalated to shoving and then tearing down portable tents that were housing supplies.

I watched this unfolding live on television and at first it was hard to believe it was happening. I had just been there two days ago and at the time people sat down quietly listening to people give two-minute speeches.

Now there were angry people, mostly residents saying enough is enough, that they wanted their streets back, they wanted normal life to return. They were shouting and screaming, grabbing tents with their hands and ripping them apart.

For the most part reports say police didn't really do much to de-escalate the situation except create a human chain between the protesters and anti-Occupy people.

One protester was bloodied by incidents in Mongkok
Heavy rains also didn't help the situation, making it more miserable for the protesters. This evening there was Amber rainstorm warning and now there are thunderstorms.

Then tonight the scuffles really broke out and one man was injured with blood on his head. He claims police did nothing to prevent him from being further attacked by anti-Occupy people.

The theory that Mongkok's occupation would be infiltrated by triad members came true and they did cause trouble. Even worse was the police not doing anything about it and letting the situation escalate even further.

Perhaps it is the government's tactic to prove how unruly protesters are so that the police can finally justify being heavy handed...

My friends and I are watching the movement that was optimistic, friendly, determined and brave now dissolve into angry fights and violent destruction of tents and things.

There were thoughts that with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's anti-climactic press conference last night, that people would be even more united, but alas, people's patience could not last.

There are questions tonight who these rabble rousers are -- are they really residents or are they thugs that may be connected to the government? There are reports these people are being paid a few hundred Hong Kong dollars to create trouble.

And because of the violent incidents, the Federation of Students that was supposed to have talks to Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor have been called off. "It is the government and the police who break the dialogue and they should bear the consequences themselves," their statement said.

This will definitely put another dent in Lam's credibility. How do the students expect to negotiate in good faith when innocent people are being attacked -- and worse -- the police hardly do much to prevent more violent incidents.

As one person on Twitter said, "Disappointing to conclude that the gov [sic] has no believable intention to protect its citizens. Tonight has been more telling than Sunday."

Where do we go from here?

Tonight I had dinner with relatives, and got a call from a media outlet based in London, asking if I could participate in a show this Sunday about what Hong Kong would look like in 2047.

I replied exasperated, "We don't even know what's going to happen tomorrow!"

"Funny you should say that," the voice on the other end said. "Everyone else I've called today has said the same thing."

All I can say is, I am glad I got to see the best of the Occupy movement on Wednesday. That optimism may have disappeared for good.


  1. i just saw this supporting a theory that anti-Occupy thugs/triads have a PRC/CCP connection with the HK Police just standing there/assisting the thugs.

  2. some of those anti-Occupy thugs may be HK Police Officers