The mass protests on the streets of Hong Kong over the past few days have been inspiring. The protests started with university students holding class boycotts and then public lectures in central Hong Kong. These led to an occupation of Civic Square, a space – as its name suggests – which is supposed to be open to the public but that has recently been fortified with huge fences. After prevaricating, the leaders of the movement called Occupy Central, which had planned to occupy roads in the central business district on October 1st, decided to bring the date forward and essentially merge the movements.
On Sunday, the students were joined by tens of thousands of other Hongkongers, mostly, but not exclusively, young. The police blocked access to the main protest site. They expected that they could simply move in and arrest the core group, while everyone else drifted off home. This didn’t happen. They were frustrated by the sheer numbers of people who decided to break through the over stretched police lines and take possession of a series of key roads in the centre of the city, where many of them remain. The police surrounding the original protest essentially got surrounded themselves. They attempted to dislodge the protesters with pepper spray, tear gas and baton charges, but failed. The riot police were withdrawn this [Monday] morning, who knows for how long. Meanwhile, protests spread to other parts of the city, including Nathan Road in Mong Kok, Kowloon, one of the city’s main roads, and another major retail and business area, Causeway Bay. [Read more…]