Witnessing the Protests in Hong Kong
I realized that something was brewing while on the hour-long train ride from Lok Ma Chau, the land border crossing from Shenzhen, into central Kowloon, the bit of Hong Kong hard across the harbor from the LED-drenched skyline of The Island. The video screens on MTR trains play an ongoing loop of local news snippets, complete with repeated commercials, and subtitles in Chinese (which I neither speak nor read). Catching up on an uncensored Internet for the first time in several days, it took me a while to notice an uncharacteristic violence in the news video clip playing in my peripheral vision, and then to slowly realize that the public transit system of a city in China was showing video, shot the night before, of police violently suppressing a public protest.
I had to go see for myself, of course.
The protesters flowed out of Admiralty station in a steady stream this past Saturday. Mostly students, nearly all wearing the yellow ribbon, most carrying a surgical mask or a set of shop goggles or a bit of cling film – talismans against the “CS foam” (pepper spray, to those not enmeshed in the paramilitary lingo of modern policing) deployed the night before. MTR employees in soft yellow polo shirts shepherded the flow, ignorant to the political or entertainment goals of their riders on a Saturday night.