Protest graffiti in Taikoo Shing
Not installation art but brick road blocks!
This week is far from over but already it's felt plenty long due to so much having already happened -- so much of it, sadly, so bad. Monday saw a cop shooting three live rounds at protesters (but, apparently, only hitting one) and a man set ablaze. Tuesday saw the police mount a major bid to enter the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) that involved their firing over 1,000 cannisters of tear gas in that area alone (and 1,567 in total that day along with 1,312 rubber bullets, 380 bean bag rounds and 126 sponge grenades) and turning it into a veritable war zone.
While things could be said to be quieter on Wednesday than the two preceding days, we're still talking about a day with ample violent clashes around the territory and major traffic disruptions to prompt various universities to suspend classes, some for the remainder of the semester. Also, there is a distinct sense of fear spreading -- at least among store owners as well as individuals -- with a number of shops, eateries and bank branches closing early for the day in my neighborhood despite it actually turning out to be one of the parts of Hong Kong that didn't see any violence yesterday. In addition, last night was the second time this week that a Hong Kong Asian Film Festival screening I had a ticket for was cancelled, with the cinemas closing early: something they don't do even when Typhoon Signal No. 8 is hoisted!
Soon after I woke up this morning, I got to realizing that today would be another bad day for Hong Kong. Among the news that greeted me was of a young, black-clad man having died in a fall in Tsuen Wan and tear gas having been fired into the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus. And of the two people caught up in violent clashes who I read were in critical condition this morning, one (the 70-year-old cleaner who was hit in the head by a brick thrown during a clash between pro-democracy protesters and Beijing loyalists) has not managed to make it through the day.
Amidst the death and destruction though, many Hong Kongers still are spiritedly resisting and showing support for one another as well as the anti-government protests that now have been going on for more than five months now (even if you "just" count from June 9th rather than the dates of the two earlier anti-extradition bill protests which took place in March and April). You might say it's inevitable, given how the government has lost all credibility (not least because it's shown itself to be controlled by Beijing), but the fact of the matter is that protesters are taking risks and making sacrifices to exercise what rightfully should be their freedoms of speech, movement, assembly and such.
Amidst the horrors of this week, I'm going to take heart from the fourth consecutive day of lunchtime protests in Central not having elicited tear gas being shot in that part of town today (unlike on Monday and Tuesday) -- and the lunchtime protests having spread to Quarry Bay and Taikoo Shing this afternoon. So too that a rally to show support for firefighters and first aiders took place at Edinburgh Place this evening. And that, despite there having been so many attempts to destroy them, Lennon Walls old and new are still blooming in various parts of the territory.