The siege of the government offices

Returning to my apartment after breakfast on Sunday, November 30, the security guard at my apartment told me that Joshua Wong and the other student leaders would be speaking at Admiralty later that day. They had some kind of announcement to make.

At 6pm that night, the HKFS leaders began to speak at the Main Stage. Here’s a great video of the entire three hours filmed by Dash, beginning with a performance of “一起雨傘.” I actually had not been following the HKFS leaders’ speech, and was just preparing to settle in for the night when I checked Twitter and saw that a huge confrontation was beginning at Admiralty. The students were starting their own escalation, calling for the surrounding of the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive’s office to shut down the government the following day. They explained the reason for laying siege to the offices (my translation below, please excuse and tell me of any errors):

此情此景,我們與不少抗爭者皆極感忿怒。我們認為,政府漠視政治訴求,司法部門助紂為虐,警察濫權瘋狂「升級」,佔領朋友必須認真表態,以行動回應,所以我們才發起星期日晚包圍政府總部行動。但與此同時,我們必須強調,正因對方無理,我們今次行動,必須冷靜克制,否則就正中下懷,變相給予政府與警方粗暴行使武力正當性。

In this situation, we and many other protesters are extremely angry. We believe the government treats our political appeals with indifference, the judiciary is aiding the evil-doers, police are escalating the abuse of their authority, and our fellow occupiers must earnestly and seriously make their position clear with our response. It is thus that we will launch Sunday night’s action to surround the government offices. But at the same time, we must also emphasize that in the face of our opposition’s irrationality, our action must be calm and we must exercise restraint, otherwise we will become no better in behavior than the government and the police’s brutality.

A number of officials and pro-Beijing politicians urged them not to act, but just after 9pm, HKFS tweeted:

Ten minutes later, a massive crowd of protesters had already surrounded Lung Wo Road, the tunnel that passed under Tamar Park. The police raised their yellow warning flag. Joshua Wong was calling for people to go to Tamar Park and the Chief Executive’s office ASAP, and an image released by Scholarism called for the same. The situation at the tunnel remained tense but without violence, and crowds grew around Civic Square as well. Shortly afterward, one side of the tunnel, Twitter reported the “first charge,” though protesters and police on the other side had not yet clashed. The numbers of protesters seemed to have overwhelmed the police, and in half an hour HKFS declared they had successfully taken Lung Wo Road. A number of protesters from Mong Kok had relocated to Admiralty to continue the fight there, such as the iconic Shirtless Graffiti Guy.

2014-11-30 22.38.30I arrived at about 10:30pm. The escalators leading up to the bridge to Tamar Park were turned off, unlike previous days, and halfway across the bridge a number of protesters were running with metal barricades. They set them down in a single row, leaving a narrow gap through which people could pass. As I walked on toward Tamar Park, I saw a man in a dark blue suit – perhaps getting off work – crossing the bridge, engaged in a shouting match with protesters in Mandarin.

I met up with a friend, a volunteer with Occupy Central, who was geared up with goggles and mask. People were handing out more face masks, and I tucked one inside my bag just in case. We went down toward the roundabout where the Umbrella Tree stood across from CITIC Tower. The streets that had been cleared out there earlier still remained empty, despite the construction of new barricades elsewhere. A mass of protesters wearing goggles, masks, and helmets stood facing a line of police wearing their own black helmets. We stayed there for a while, watching the police, before leaving to check out the eastern line of defense near Wanchai.

As we walked back through the protest site, we saw others taking down some art from the walls near Civic Square – not the printed posters, but painted works – to keep them safe. I’d been reading about people preparing for the archiving and collecting of art, such as the wish that no works be removed without the artists’ approval. The Umbrella Man had been gone from the site for over a week, and I noticed several other works, like the egg and brick wall display, had also been removed.

On the other side of the street, closer to Civic Square, was a tent that’s been set up for a while with a large white cross. A group of people were sitting underneath it in a circle, singing.

More barricades were being built and reinforced near the eastern perimeter of the occupation zone. A number of people were also trying to remove tents and supplies, and one woman called out for men and women to help out with specific tasks (I forget what exactly). My friend immediately jumped in to help, and I clambered up onto the concrete divider in the middle of the road where I could get a better view of the scene. A row of police officers were standing, far in the distance, watching. I couldn’t see the full number of officers there, but they seemed to be fewer than the group near the Umbrella Tree. Large canvases still stood facing the police; here’s the front view of the art. A white man with a guitar strapped to his back leapt over the divider and ran to a friend’s tent, just one barricade’s distance from the police, and seemed to be urging her to get out.

2014-11-30 23.16.26Reassured that this area was calm, we headed back toward to Lung Wo Road, past the Umbrella Tree, and stopped at the east side of the tunnel. By now it was a few minutes past 11. People were freely walking through the tunnel. I leapt up on top of another concrete divider in the middle of the road both to stay out of the way of others running back and forth, and to get a better view.

Just a few steps to the east, a massive crowd suddenly began moving in a huge wave, walking in a stream back towards the tunnel. I jumped back down off the barrier to get out of the way, in case people needed to jump over the barrier to a safer zone. People were shouting, yelling. Someone on a loudspeaker was imploring in Cantonese, “唔好掟嘢!” “Don’t throw things! Everyone, do not throw things!” I couldn’t see what was happening at the front, but through gaps in the group of people standing atop the barricade I could see people had stopped moving toward the tunnel, and some were moving back toward the police. The crowd must have turned back or been confronted, and I began to hear cracks and pops – the sounds of batons on umbrellas and on bodies.

2014-11-30 23.21.28I climbed back onto the barricade and heard the pops stop, and I saw the crowd of protesters, all wearing white and yellow construction workers’ helmets, walking backwards as helmeted riot police advanced. The voice on the loudspeaker continued to ask for everyone to not throw things, as they might hurt their fellow protesters or increase their danger. The two sides paused, and I saw a gap between the police and the protesters had formed. Someone was carrying a lone, bright yellow umbrella. At my feet a protester who’d been hit with pepper spray was having his eyes washed out by two other people. At the front lines, umbrellas were being passed forward, opened, and reversed. One umbrella had an American flag print. People also began to yell, “Hold住!” (“Hold on!”), urging their fellows to hold the front line. At some point, someone who’d been sprayed was standing beside me, asking if anyone had tissues; I struggled with my bag to offer him one but by that time he’d gotten another. Someone else (possibly the same person) was asking if anyone had a spare face mask, and I pulled out the one I’d tucked into my bag earlier that night and gave it to him. (Watch my video here.)

Then there was a rush and a battle cry, and the crowd of protesters pressed forward with a yell, “𨳒(屌)你老母!”  (“F*ck your mother!”) Then the crowd paused – they moved back a little – then another cry, and another forward press. I could hear what sounded like smashing, and the protesters retreated again. The area around the tunnel was thronged with people watching, passing forward supplies, moving back and forth. The series of advances and retreats continued. There was a pause in the struggle, and someone yelled in English at the police, “You’re f*cking cowards! You’re f*cking weak!”

A girl wearing a helmet decorated with the lyrics to John Lennon's "Imagine"

A girl wearing a helmet decorated with the lyrics to John Lennon’s “Imagine”

My friend got a message that there was a need for backup on the west side of the tunnel, and we hurried back, pausing by the Umbrella Tree to check on the situation there. The crowd there was ready with helmets as well, some of which had been decorated in the previous weeks of peace. We continued on through the rotunda of the Legislative Council, up the stairs to Tamar Park, where a troupe of men and women with helmets and homemade shields of what looked like cardboard and thin wood marched down to cheers and applause (see this photo of similar shields), across the grass of Tamar Park, and to the edge of Lung Wo Road where the tunnel emerged, just alongside the PLA building.

The situation was tense there, with a massive crowd of people facing a line of police standing in front of their headquarters. Hundreds more thronged the edges of the tunnel, watching and shouting. I joined a group of reporters on one of the edges. On a megaphone, a policeman ordered the protesters to stop removing their barricades, threatening that they would be prosecuted. The protesters around me shouted their disapproval. Some yelled, in Cantonese, “Can’t hear you!” while others yelled, “黑警!” (“Black police,” using the term from 黑社會, meaning mafia/triads (literally, black societies)). A few others shouted, “Recap in English!” Above, a huge glittering display of lights read “Season’s Greetings.”

2014-11-30 23.56.54The scene was tense but without serious confrontation. Just before midnight we left to circle around through the occupation zone and check out the opposite side of the PLA headquarters. It was a complete change from the side of the headquarters by Lung Wo Road. It was almost empty, with perhaps a dozen officers standing without helmets on their heads or by their sides. Although this spot seemed more vulnerable – if the police stormed the one set of barricades here, there would be little else between them and the center of the protest site. And yet no one had added barricades here, or set up guard.

2014-11-30 23.58.02A number of protesters were standing up on the highway directly facing the police, speaking to them. They said that they knew the confrontation between them, and the anger over the violence they had encountered in the past week, were not the fault of the police, but rather the fault of CY Leung and the politics of the situation. Everyone, they said, was a victim.

At this point another friend was arriving by MTR, and so we needed to check if the exits were still open. They were. We waited for her to show up. Just after midnight, news about China barring British members of Parliament from traveling to Hong Kong broke. Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee were warned that they would not be allowed to enter Hong Kong, and in response, the Committee declared it would request an emergency debate.

Conscious of the time and knowing that the MTR and some buses would be stopping before 1am, I left after the other friend arrived. The battle seemed to have been successful; the protesters held the tunnel at Lung Wo Road, and other possibly entry points were also calm. I assumed that the police would not make another move that night, and that if they would make another move, it wouldn’t happen until early the next morning.

What didn’t hit me until I was on the bus home was that once the MTR closed at 1am, the protesters would not be able to call for reinforcements. The massive numbers of demonstrators was a critical element, and closing the MTR would mean that far fewer people could reach the site quickly. At midnight, HKFS posted a map of the five key points that they had identified as their occupation goals – though I can’t imagine why it took so long for this map to be published, when they had begun the action three hours previously.

The protesters had successfully overtaken Lung Wo Road, and people could move freely through the tunnel. The Labour Party’s Lee Cheuk-Yan also made his appearance at the front lines in Admiralty, while in Mong Kok protesters began to surround the buses of the company that had applied for the injunction.

Around 1am, TranslateHK live tweeted a short press conference HKFS was holding at the smaller green stage near Civic Square, discussing the “successful” surrounding of the government headquarters.

1:00. Alex Chow: wants govt to directly address political problem. To show power of the people to govt.

Alex Chow: even if hk govt cannot revoke 831 decision they have to figure out a way within process to incorporate civil nomination

Alex Chow: considers protesters still restrained, but police using violence.

Alex Chow: have internal division to avoid all leaders arrested. Some at frontline some behind. Eason Chung and 10 or so at frontline

Alex Chow: goal is to paralyze govt. Focus and direct pressure on political center. Tell govt that ppl democratic demands are not swayed

Alex Chow: demands govt to reply. Will continue until they respond.

Alex Chow: forced to occupy Lung Wo to surround govt hq. Police blocked pedestrian pathways.

Alex Chow: Alex/Lester/Joshua not at frontline doesn’t matter as they have internal division of work.

Alex Chow: Lester and Jwong behind the scenes at they were arrested in MK earlier

Alex Chow: goal to surround govt hq successful, but goal of the movement not yet achieved

Alex Chow: wants clear timetable from govt to respond to demands for democracy

Alex Chow: believes action tonight still non violent

Alex Chow: aim is not to occupy Lung Wo, only a mean to surround govt hq

Alex Chow: surrounding govt hq is a slap to the face. If they have dignity they would have to respond

Alex Chow: open to talks, but govt needs to give concrete suggestion so that it has meaning. Main aim of mvmt no longer dialogue however

But not long after, at about 1:30 in the morning – indeed, shortly after the MTR closed – new clashes broke out at Admiralty, and Lee Cheuk-Yan was reported leaving the scene (though some suggested they still felt his support against the police).

I was watching three live video feeds – Apple Dailynow TV, and TVB – and following Twitter at the same time. TVB, though, was useless because it kept pausing to buffer, and Apple Daily didn’t seem to be showing those areas that people on Twitter were focusing in on. From watching Apple Daily‘s videos, I could see people and conflicts but couldn’t tell where they were or how they were progressing. Reporters on Twitter seemed to make more sense, and from their tweets I gathered that the police were beating back the protesters, retaking Lung Wo Road and clearing Tamar Park in the process; HKFS confirmed the situation. Photos of the injured being treated showed a real state of emergency as deep into the occupation zone as the MTR station.

Almost as soon as reports came that Tamar Park was being cleared of protesters, others said that police were moving back from Tamar, heading back toward Lung Wo Road to ensure it remained open and to send in a cleaning truck. Their goal, it seemed, was to reopen the road to traffic as soon as possible. HKFS also noted at about this time the story of the British MPs denied entry to Hong Kong. It was clear that the successful siege had been short-lived, and at 2am Nathan Law called for a discussion at the main stage. Near Tamar Park at about 2:30am, Yvonne Leung and other protesters discussed the situation; again, TranslateHK offers details on that conversation and on others.

2:29. Yvonne wants to surround govt complex. Didn’t want to occupy lung wo. Plan now is hold Hoi Fu bridge.

Discontent protesters. One said will not follow hkfs ops in the future. Lots frontline ppl not happy with organization.

Hkfs had clear idea of surrounding 5 key locations, not to expand into occupying Lung Wo. But protesters occupied and plan didn’t work

Protesters also saying information flow is poor. Main stage 10min behind, ppl still asking what happened at Lung Wo.

1/2 In sum, tonight did not go according to plan to occupy specific locations so that ppl can’t get to work.

2/2 occupied Lung Wo caused full scale conflict instead of surrounding govt to paralyze. Hkfs did not expect emotions of ppl affecting plan

1/2 Some frontline protesters discontent and hurt. Felt no one at helped while they got beaten.

2/2 Hkfs also forced away radicals previously who were willing to use force (failed LegCo charge). Weakening frontline now

By 2:40am, Lung Wo Road was being cleaned with a water truck, and cars were driving through the tunnel again an hour later. It seemed that indeed, the protesters’ had lost this fight. Exhausted, with images of both Hong Kong and Ferguson before my eyes, I went to sleep.

Apple Daily has a video of the entire night – with the three hours at the Big Stage, and the confrontations throughout the night (though as I mentioned, having been present at some of those locations filmed, and comparing its live video alongside my updating Twitter feed, I especially feel that not all of its footage reflected the critical moments on the ground). HKFS has its own live updates of the night, in reverse chronological order. Tom Grundy shared this photo from the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre, showing the direction flows of the battle through the night.

While I slept, another charge to retake Lung Wo Road was underway. Protesters encountered no police resistance, which some celebrated, while others uncomfortably questioned if they were entering some kind of trap. But there was a police line there before their headquarters. No clashes commenced, though the protesters and the police faced one another, some demonstrators shouting angrily. Others, however, were trying to communicate with the police – especially this officer, who then inspired others to join in conversation with the protesters (though not all)! By 6am, the police who had been chatting with the protesters had gone off their shifts, and although protesters tried to greet a white officer in English, there was no more conversation.

As the sun rose, police began to gather on the overhead pass leading to Tamar Park, preparing to clear protesters from the area. Perhaps their goal was to clear the area for government employees to go to work, thwarting HKFS’ goal, but just before 7am the government released the news that the offices would be closed that morning. This was a success for HKFS after the hard night, but the government also noted their employees should keep an eye out for updates in the afternoon.

Police in full riot gear emerged from the PLA building and began pushing protesters out of Lung Wo Road. They used a “water cannon” on the occupiers, yet the lack of a massive uproar over its use was strange, considering the response to the police use of tear gas that had started the whole occupation. Police claimed they had not used a water cannon, but were spraying fresh waterApple Daily suggested it wasn’t a water cannon either, but a fire hose with a pepper spray-like solution.

By 7:30am, police were walking through the center of the camp to the MTR exit, and a sense of panic seemed to grip the site. But the police simply cleared the barricades that had been blocking access to escalators up to the bridge leading to Tamar Park, removing a number of banners that had hung there for weeks, and then cleared barricades at the top of the Lennon Wall, before retreating. From their position on top of the bridge, the police taunted the protesters below, who responded with one-fingered salutes. The police began moving down the bridge, raising tensions, but they simply moved out of the site. People spotted a smoke spewing from a window at the PLA buildings – some thought it was tear gas – but it turned out to be a kitchen fire.

Shortly before 9am, Alex Chow declared that the night’s operation had been a partial success because they had achieved the goal of preventing government workers from going to their offices, but he also recognized the sacrifices that protesters made with their bodies the previous night. Lee Cheuk-Yan concurred (also here). Then at 10:30am, the government reported that their offices would be opened in the afternoon, and condemned the protesters for the violent clashes. Police cleared tents out of Tamar Park, and though some protesters almost immediately put up new ones, the siege was clearly just a partial success that looked more and more like a failure for the wasted blood and effort.

But SCMP‘s recap of the events offered another troubling way to view the night: The Occupy Central founders planned to turn themselves in to the police that Friday, December 5, which would allow them to stick to their original plan of civil disobedience. HKFS, the article argues, did not plan to turn themselves in, but rather to stay until they were arrested. By escalating the movement, they could provoke the police to arrest them and other demonstrators, and indeed, overnight 40 people were arrested at Admiralty.

“It is a common belief of organisers that it is time to get off the streets and take the campaign for democracy forward to a more sustainable format,” said a source close to the inner core of the Federation of Students.

“Surrounding government offices would prompt police to take action, and it is hoped that the protesters will start thinking about how to carry on the movement elsewhere, without occupying.”

It would therefore be like turning themselves in to the police, like the Occupy Central activists, but doing it in a more calculated way. It would be as if HKFS never intended to have the siege be a success, but rather planned the siege as a tactic to help protesters recognize the futility of continuing to occupy the streets. It makes sense to recognize that the two months of occupation have done little to sway the government – this Wall Street Journal article emphasizes how the government’s completely ignored the fray, instead allowing companies, courts, and police to deal with the protests. That afternoon, for instance, the High Court issued an interim injunction for the protest site at Admiralty (full text here). But thinking of Sunday night in such terms is so difficult, after all the trust that people placed in the student leaders. It’s eroding, internal divisions growing more and more.

The protesters were still very much angry with the police, and even more so as the officers on top of the bridge had flipped them off and jeered at them below. This was a new level of police-protester interaction: whereas before one could say that the police were simply doing their jobs, this was so personal. At about 9 that morning, three policemen had entered the area around the MTR exit, yelling angrily at the protesters. Several witnesses said they weren’t wearing proper identification, but when a woman criticized them, the police responded, “再嘈捉你返差館強姦” (If you don’t shut up, I’ll drag you back to the police station and rape you). This caused a massive uproar, and the crowd surrounded the three suspected undercover cops – at one point, one of the men fainted, though from the video it looks rather fishy. After this incident, stores with display windows in the MTR exit boarded the windows up.

At 5pm, the student leaders were speaking with the media, and Alex Chow admitted that the action had been a failure (SCMP reported the same admission at 7:10pm). Joshua Wong also apologized to all those who had been injured, and though some protesters were upset that he had not been on the front lines that night, he explained that he could not risk being arrested again, which would have allowed the police to detail him until January 14.

The night’s speeches at the Big Stage, which usually begin at 8pm, started nearly 40 minutes late. The students had hardly gone on stage when people began to shout at them to step down. Minutes after, a group of people began to try removing the barricades that set off the Main Stage, but they were pulled away. One man in a coat got on stage and refused to leave, demanding an explanation from HKFS for the previous night. At 9:30, Alex Chow, Lester Shum, Yvonne Leung, Joshua Wong, Eason Chung, and another Scholarism member took the stage. It’s incredible, watching the video, to see how contentious the scene is, but how much support bursts from the crowd when they go up.

As usual, TranslateHK was on the scene to live-tweet the translation; Dash live-tweeted in Chinese, and filmed the whole scene, with breaks and interruptions and shouting:

9:30. Alex Chow: everyone came out, we have to apologize for every injured member as we student organizers are reponsible for the escalation

Alex Chow: Those who got hurt were similarly humiliated by police. When police was at Hoi fu bridge, everyone focused their emotions on them

Alex Chow: People threw helmets, but no one had clear reason to deny them that. When people are angry, we have our emotions and response

Alex Chow: some ppl asks to be calm, some says don’t fall into police trap. Police had been trying to provoke protesters since start

Alex Chow: when frontline gets beaten and sprayed, and ppl tell them to calm down. Do ppl even understand their feelings at the frontline?

Alex Chow: We want to hold true to non violent so people are safe. It does not mean let police hit, obv we defend.

Alex Chow: when police assault ten we will defend to minimize damage. Does letting ppl get hit without defense promote the mvmt? No.

Alex Chow: then again, does hitting them back with sticks promote the mvmt? I think that would turn into a revolution

Alex Chow: Does of us up here, we do not have all the answers. But we can always discuss

Alex Chow: regarding revolution, to resist them, we do not have the training, and hk is not in that situation

Alex Chow: govt has infinite violence, so does fighting back police promote the mvmt? I have my doubts on that

Alex Chow: We should establish framework under principle of non violence to work out details

Eason Chung: we do not expect to be heros. There are more than just Alex Lester Jwong in Hkfs Scholarism. We are all participants

Eason Chung: Everyone is a hero here. This we have to coordinate front and back.

Eason Chung: some ppl ystdy were not prepared for more aggressive actions. Ppl not mentally prepared, and thus those who acted were not hero

Lester Shum: thank to everyone at the frontline. No one should sacrifice so muc for such basic rights

Lester Shum: we apologize for whatever we did that did not meet expectations. (Bows together). Huge cheers of gahyau from crowd

Lester Shum: Escalation has been discussed instead of sitting here waiting to be cleared out. It is to put greater pressure on govt

Lester Shum: We have to recognize the number of ppl who would heed the call for escalation is much lower now than 9.28 or early oct

Lester Shum: putting pressure does not mean hitting a policeman. We have to assess our strengths.

Lester Shum: re. Stopping ppl assaulting police. It’s not we love them, it’s because we love the ppl around us who fight with us

Lester Shum: any sort of provocation ends up getting our comrades injured. Don’t assault is because we want to protect other protesters

Lester Shum: some ppl say peaceful doesn’t work, we have to be violent. 1. Does violent struggle put enough pressure? It’s not our strength

Lester Shum: who are good at violence? You know well enough. TK Lai, CY, CCP

Lester Shum: a few hundred police came out from Tim Wah. In 5min we are out of Lung Wo w/ just batons and pepper spray

Lester Shum: are we mentally prepared or have the ability to resist such violence? If we blocked batons and spray, they will just escalate

Lester Shum: maybe in future we may be ready for violent conflict. We have to rationally think whether escalation or regathers our strength

Yvonne Leung: even if some ppl consider we can proactively attack, but we will not be able to organize well such actions

Yvonne Leung: one rule regardless of violence, we have to be rational. Rationality will let us efficiently do what we need

Yvonne Leung: Police have lost their rationality. At Hoi fu, the moment we put down barricades, the show batons to prepare to hit us.

Yvonne Leung: police have lost all rationality. We strong criticize police that used such force

Yvonne Leung: rationality is to use the most efficient way to achieve. The undercover cops provoked, but dozens of ppl hit and kicked them

Yvonne Leung: is the result that 100s police coming afterwards to beat our ppl up. Is that what we want by surrounding those 3 cops?

Yvonne Leung: we lost a battle yesterday, but I hope we do not lose the war. Fight for Democracy is a war.

Scholarism Derrick: I cannot meet the expectation of some ppl. Some ppl ask what right do you have to speak on stage?

Derrick: sometimes we lose rationality and scold those who are speaking. There are lots of infighting within our site.

Derrick: would not end via infighting. It would only end if we stop struggling. The only opponent there is is CY and govt

JWong: re. Reports student leaders leaving frontlines to die: I had 5 arrests, thus may not be at frontline as we will be detained until Jan

JWong: there are still a lot of Hkfs/scholarism members at Lung Wo. Scholarism had around 10 members defending Lung Wo from uni to middleskl

JWong: a lot of Scholarism members faced police brutality. We have division of labor. But I want to stress we never left frontline

JWong: we did not tell ppl to just get hit. We told ppl to bring protective gear. We are not telling you to go die at frontline

JWong: Why students still hold true to non violence? If a thrown water bottle would make police hit more, is that what we want?

JWong: do not cloud our minds by fear and anger. Students will fight alongside everyone here

Alex Chow: I am angry as well as my friends are injured by police. I question whether I could control my emotions as well

Alex Chow: but if we hit back at them with hatred, then would we become them?

Alex Chow: we should not degrade ourselves to the levels of police/opponents.I would worry after achieving democracy what society will it be

Alex Chow: we have to hold true to our conscious. In the process of the struggle, we should not be affected by the ugliness of the opponent

Alex Chow: some ppl say I don’t have right to speak as I have not been hit. All I can say is again is I am sorry.

At the repentance of the students, some people saw that the previously angry demonstrators had calmed down. At about 10:20pm, Scholarism students took the stage to discuss the movement, and Joshua Wong – apologizing for missing his mother’s birthday dinner – and two other students announced they would go on an indefinite hunger strike.

Near the MTR exit, people scoffed at the students on stage. One girl – in a rather strange relationship with women’s roles in the movement – suggested the previous night had been horribly planned because she wasn’t protected by men like she would have been in Mong Kok. A man laughed at Joshua Wong’s hunger strike, saying it would just give him an excuse to retreat with honor. Another person said there would be no results from the hunger strike, and that the students had simply run out of ideas for resistance.


  • This timeline of Communist political struggle appeared at the Lennon Wall.
  • A photo essay of the siege.
  • I find this video of an anti-Occupy man surrounded by people at Admiralty somewhat amusing for the exchange of cigarette smoke.
  • Anthropologist Gordon Mathews wrote this post in response to the night’s events. He uses a term that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: “civil.” He says that in spite of police violence, when compared to police violence elsewhere around the world (like the United States), “Hong Kong is still more civil in its behavior than almost anywhere else in the world.”
  • Thinking about the role of religion among the Umbrella Movement’s leaders, here’s a post by Joshua Wong from this past July about his relationship to his Christian faith and his activism.
  • Here’s a Facebook page called “A Letter to Parents,” for students to try explaining to their parents why they are fighting and to bridge that generational gap.
  • Quartz writes that “The Umbrella Movement appears to be boosting tourism in Hong Kong,” reporting that

Tourism increased 12.6% during the month of October from a year ago, according to figures from the Hong Kong Tourism Board, and there was a whopping 18.3% increase in mainland China visitors during the month. That’s over 4 million visitors from mainland China alone.

White privilege and white police

Here’s my little section with more thoughts on white men and the use of English in the protests.

  • One of the more prolific English-language Twitter accounts is Hong Kong Hermit, who recognized that his being white let him stand behind the police cordon along with members of the press: “My armour of white privilege worked well.”
  • Here’s a video of protesters in the MTR exit shouting at a white police officer, “F*ck you!” in English and “死鬼佬!” (Damn gweilo). 
  • And here’s an older video from September 29 – the day after the tear gas was used – with Badcanto’s comments: “OK, the best way to deal w/ police is to find some white men who speak fast…. The police is showing some inferior Chinese DNA. They should have sprayed everyone no matter of skin color. They only know how to bully the locals. When they see white people, they become so tongue-tied that their brain can’t function at all
  • An HKU professor of Asian descent, Patrick Henry Toy, who does not speak Cantonese, was also arrested at Lung Wo Road, but the police would not – or could not – communicate with him in English. Here’s the video (no idea what’s going on with the weird slow motion).
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