About 250 people, mostly students from six local schools in Wan Chai, formed a human chain at 5pm on Queen Road East, two hours before Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s open dialogue with 150 members of the public regarding the city’s ongoing unrest at Queen Elizabeth Stadium 200 metres away.
The masked protesters, mainly wearing their uniforms, joined hands literally and urged the government to respond to the remaining four demands, and the police force to admit and apologise for arbitrarily assaulting citizens. Some of them also wore helmets, or carried umbrellas or Pepe the Frog plush toys.
Participants were students and alumni from True Light Middle School of Hong Kong, Sheng Kung Hui Tang Shiu Kin Secondary School, St Francis' Canossian College, Tang King Po School, Tang Shiu Kin Victoria Government Secondary School and Wah Yan College, Hong Kong.
Students chanted slogans like “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong” and “Hong Kong Police know the law but break it.” They also sang protest songs, including Glory to Hong Kong and Do You Hear the People Sing?, multiple times.
Many were holding protest signs as well, some of which read “Establish an independent commission of inquiry”, “Do not oppress those in the right; do not tolerate those who are wrong”, and “Stop suppressing Hongkongers”.
One of the participants, surnamed Wong, wore a dark grey ski mask that covered most of her face except her eyes. She said she wished to protect her identity, as she was taking part in the activity behind her parents’ backs.
“My parents have claimed that youngsters have been paid to attend the protests. One time, they even jeered at the protesters and said they deserved to be arrested and that they had asked for it,” said the 17-year-old student from True Light Middle School of Hong Kong.
She said she was heartbroken that her parents never listened to what she thought about the current social movement. When she showed them information that might support the protesters’ side, they refused to listen, and they persist in only paying attention to news from TVB.
“I wasn’t even allowed to attend the peaceful and legal protests. I’m worried that if I bring up this issue, the conversation would end up in an argument,” she said.
Wong added that if she told her parents she was going to a protest, she might be grounded and even forbidden from attending tutorial classes after school. Therefore, she feels the only way to keep being involved in this movement is to conceal it entirely from them.
Regarding the dialogue between Lam and the public, Wong said unless the leader was willing to meet the remaining four demands, there was no point in talking.
“She’s just faking to be close to the people. If she really means it, she should’ve known what we want already… The five demands are all equally important,” said Wong.
One of the demands is the amnesty for all arrested people. Wong said although the protesters’ actions had been escalated, they were not the culprits.
“The frontline protesters had their reasons to intensify the action. All the previous peaceful protests were proven useless because the government did not listen to our demands. The government is to blame [for what’s going on in Hong Kong],” she added.
Another student, surnamed Yu, told Young Post that although Lam wanted a dialogue today, the number of police deployed at the scene was unreasonably high. He believes this intimidation just showed Lam wasn’t willing to have a real dialogue.
“I’m a bit worried about my safety because these days, the police haven’t been following their regulations,” said Yu, a 16-year-old Wah Yan College, Hong Kong student. “But even after considering the risks, I still think it’s worth coming out. We just want to fight for freedom while we can, until it’s too late.”
Yu has been active in the anti-extradition bill movement since early June. He has participated in protests, gatherings and human chains, and had even been to the frontline as a messenger and deliverer for the supplies needed.
After the new school term began, Yu was also involved in related activities held on campus. He said one time, a school teacher tore down the Lennon Wall that had been set up in school.
“In defiance of her action, within one day, we repaired it and built it up again at the same spot,” said Yu, “It’s like a virtual slap in her face.”
At around 6pm, Yu, along with the other participating students, belted out the movement’s anthem, Glory to Hong Kong. He subsequently yelled, “Liberate Hong Kong,” and the crowd responded, “Revolution of our times”.
Regarding the increased amount of violence seen at protests recently, Yu said: “I might question [the frontline protesters’] choice of timing and place to attack, but I would never question their motive.”
“We’re all in this together. I fully understand and support them.”
A middle-aged male citizen was seen distributing water bottles and chocolate bars to support the students.
At about 6.05pm, a male student shouted “Where are you, Carrie Lam Cheng-Yuet Ngor?”
At the footbridge over Queen’s Road East leading to Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, students also built a Lennon Wall. Half of the footbridge was stuck with rows of portrait posters of pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, with the word “Triad” spray painted in Chinese between rows of photos. Sticky notes were also stuck on the footbridge’s iron railings.
Shortly before the start of the dialogue, about 200 anti-government citizens gathered outside the Queen Elizabeth Stadium, chanting slogans and singing protest songs. Only about a dozen media liaison personnel and police were present.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the harbour, masked students from nine schools assembled at Oxford Road Playground in Kowloon Tong to call for the government to respond to public opinion this afternoon. They include students from La Salle College, Holy Family Canossian College and Maryknoll Convent School (Secondary Section).