A (surveillance?) helicopter hovered overhead
in Kowloon this afternoon
Yesterday morning saw the dissemination of an updated Hong Kong protest schedule which included two protest marches starting half an hour apart from Tsim Sha Tsui. Before the end of the day, updates came that the anti-emergency laws protest march would get priority. However, other protest events scheduled to take place in various other parts of the territory this afternoon (including a 48-hour sit-in outside the police headquarters in Wan Chai by senior citizens) would go ahead as planned, and did indeed do so (including in shopping malls once more).
At the appointed time and place in Tsim Sha Tsui this afternoon, a crowd -- many braving the Face Covering Regulation and all fully aware that the police could appear to declare it an illegal assembly despite the Basic Law giving Hong Kongers the right to freely assemble and protest (see Article 27) -- assembled to do such as sing Glory to Hong Kong and vocally make their five demands. Larger than the crowd that had assembled in Causeway Bay for a protest march the previous Saturday, it swelled, like last Saturday's, after the people got going and set off -- first along the edge of the Kowloon Peninsula and then northwards through Jordan, Yau Ma Tei, Mongkok, Sham Shui Po and up to Cheung Sha Wan -- with some individuals opting to go still further to Mei Foo.
From what I gathered from friends and other sources, the tail end of today's march still was far back as Jordan after its head had reached its end destination. So I'm more inclined to believe estimates of the protest's size as being in the thousands rather than just a little more than one thousand. And while I was told that riot police had appeared along the march route at various points, I personally didn't spot any of Asia's not finest in Kowloon this afternoon (even while having done so after coming out of an evening film screening in Kowloon this past Thursday and while out grocery shopping on Hong Kong Island earlier today).
Part of me was indeed expecting to come across at least one team of riot police on the way home today -- since it's become par for the course for me on weekends on Hong Kong Island. Thankfully, that was not the case -- and ditto re not catching any more whiffs of tear gas; something I particularly do not care to do sans protective mask. Also quite the relief today was that public transportation was still running in the area where the protest march had ended -- again, not something one can take for granted anymore these days.
Something those who harp about diminished protest attendance sizes in recent days and weeks don't want you to know: With each added week of protest (and we're into week 18, counting from June 9th -- when what was actually the third extradition bill protest march was held, with the first being back in March), it's not only gotten more difficult to get Letters of No Objection from the police for protests. Rather, it's also gotten harder for people to get to protest events, and -- this even for peaceful protesters -- leave safely as well as conveniently after attending them.
This is, of course, particularly after the MTR began pre-emptively closing down stations near protest events (even those which had received Letters of No Objection, like the Kwun Tong to Kowloon Bay march on August 24th) and, worse, began catering to the police rather than civilians. Throw in the police stopping and searching buses, mini-buses, trams and such for law-breakers -- along with their pretty much taking to suspecting anyone dressed in black and/or who is young for being such -- and it should become clearer how inconvenient -- to put it mildly? -- it now can be to add one's voice to those seeking justice and democracy for Hong Kong.
And yet, people still keep on turning up to voice their love for Hong Kong and seeking what was promised under the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1997 and Basic Law. Which brings me to one more point I really want to make clear: that, contrary to popular misperception, Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters are not restricted to those of a youthful age but, rather, also do have a good number of silver-haired representatives and those in the generation(s) in between.