After six months of mostly violent demonstrations, Sundays march attended by hundreds of thousands was mostly peaceful, as people filled the streets of Hong Kong in a mass show of support for an anti-government movement that shows no signs of flagging.
Chanting “Reclaim Hong Kong, Revolution of our time!”the protesters formed a two-mile-long human snake winding for blocks on Hong Kong Island, from the Causeway Bay shopping district to the Central business zone.
It was the first time in nearly four months that the march organiser, Civil Human Rights Front, had been given police permission for a mass demonstration. The organiser of million-strong marches in June estimated that 800,000 people participated in Sunday’s march. Police said 183,000 turned up.
Buoyed by the landslide victory of pro-democracy politicians in the district elections two weeks ago, protesters were in high spirits, and there was a relaxed, carnival-like atmosphere.
Some chanted “Five demands, not one less!” referring to a set of as-yet-unfulfilled political demands, including democratic reforms and an independent investigation into police brutality.
Others directed their hostility towards riot police officers who were standing guard, calling them “dogs” and chanting “Hong Kongers, revenge!”, while making obscene gestures at them. Violent confrontations between police and protesters in the past few months have resulted in mutual hostility.
Some protesters spray-painted anti-China graffiti on a Bank of China building while others attacked a pro-Beijing bank. A Starbucks cafe, run by a franchise company seen as pro-China, was also vandalised.
As darkness fell, tensions escalated as riot police and a large group of militant protesters confronted each other in Central, the end point of the protest route. Black-clad protesters occupied a major thoroughfare and got behind makeshift barricades built with plastic roadside barriers, umbrellas, metal sheets and bamboo poles.
Many protesters expressed anger that the Hong Kong authorities have ruled out further concessions despite the landslide victory of the pro-democracy camp in district elections, widely seen as a vote of no confidence in the government.
The extradition bill that sparked the wave of protests was belatedly scrapped in September, and the Hong Kong leader, Carrie Lam, said no further concessions would be made, despite growing calls for an independent body to investigate police brutality. (Source: The Guardian)