Sunday, 21 July 2019

Another Protest, Another Conflict

Some 430,000 people participated in the (peaceful) march on Sunday
Every Sunday it's the same thing -- a peaceful march followed by ugly confrontations between a group of protesters and the police.

This afternoon hundreds of thousands of people gathered at Victoria Park for yet another march calling for Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to withdraw the bill and set up an independent commission into alleged police brutality. This time the dress code was any colour, but the vast majority of people were in black.

"Hong Kong add oil" in yellow balloons
We were told the finish would be at Southern Playground in Wan Chai, and there was speculation that perhaps the police were itching for a fight and that protesters would go to the police headquarters a few blocks away.

In any event, the march got underway at 3.30pm, but it took us over an hour just to get out of Victoria Park. In that time at least four people passed out and marchers signaled for first aid, and even made space for them to rush over. Standing around in 32 degree heat and high humidity shows protesters aren't doing this for fun -- this is hard work!

At times we had to walk backwards too, which was a first in a protest march, possibly because of people fainting here and there. Almost two hours later we were by the Regal Hong Kong Hotel, and then just after two hours by Sogo.

It was here that we saw Ken Tsang Kin-chiu on a bullhorn telling marchers they could walk faster on Lockhart Road and he was with Cardinal Zen who was giving everyone the thumbs up. All along the way there were no police in sight to ensure we were keeping in line.

People leaving messages of support all over the march route
With some people going to Lockhart Road, we could finally walk at a slightly faster pace, though it was not without its stops and starts. When things got quiet, someone would show "Hongkongers!" and others replied "Add oil!", or "Carrie Lam!" and "Resign!" That would energize the crowd for a while and then later on towards Admiralty Christians were singing "Sing Hallelujah", another protest song...

Overall the atmosphere was good, young and old, we all braved the heat to march. By the time we got to Southern Playground we could see one protester shouting he had masks, hinting it was for people who wanted to go to the police headquarters.

We decided to march all the way to the Court of Final Appeal, the original end point for the march, but we could see other people heading to the Legislative Council, also with masks. After three hours and 48 minutes we finally made it to Central and my legs were tired to say the least.

Protesters deface the sign in front of the liaison office
After coming home I saw on Twitter that protesters had gone to the liaison office in Sai Ying Pun and no police were there to guard the building. Naturally the protesters took the opportunity to deface it, including calling President Xi Jinping a dog...

Then the police tried to clear them from the area, and moved them eastwards towards Central. However, things heated up again near Shun Tak Centre and Western Market and tear gas was thrown many times and possibly rubber bullets were fired as well.

In the meantime things got even uglier in Yuen Long MTR station where people in white with sticks were attacking anyone in black, who they assumed to be protesters. What was even scarier was that there were no police in sight, leaving many people, including families with young children frightened and shocked to be caught in the mess.

Police fire tear gas at protesters in Sheung Wan this evening
Only in the last few minutes (around 11.15pm) did the police arrive (all 12 of them), after the thugs (possibly triads?) left. To some it seemed like the whole incident was planned and are demanding answers from the police, who are telling commuters to just go home. How about some answers?

It's all very confusing and there will be more talk tomorrow. But in the meantime it seems now (11.30pm) that protesters have decided to call it a day in Sheung Wan.

How can Hong Kong continue to sustain these protest marches and violent incidents week after week? This is not the city we know and love anymore and it is the government that has to be accountable for this mess and get us out of it. However, Carrie Lam has been completely silent about it and the longer she doesn't say anything, the more this will continue...


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