Crime

The view from Hong Kong: A mass of students in black

Protesters, primarily black-clad students, extend as far as the eye can see in the Admiralty section of the city’s business district.

Amid unabated calls for democracy and civil nomination, the so-called “Umbrella Revolution” continues as demonstrators take to – and occupy – the streets in support of a new vision of Hong Kong and its post-colonial governance.

Over the past week, the student strike, also known as Occupy Central, and the pro-democracy movement have expanded from Admiralty to Causeway Bay and the Mong Kok district.

Spirits remain high among the crowds, despite sweltering heat and the threat of rain – a threat realized in Mong Kok. Protesters again had to don their plastic ponchos and make use of umbrellas, this time for the weather rather than police pepper spray.

Protesters are encouraged to “keep calm and be alert.” One English-language banner reminds protesters and observers alike, “This is not a party.”

Though spontaneous, the occupation remains remarkably organized. Dotting the field of view in Admiralty are small tents erected as make-shift stations for managing the distribution of supplies, first aid and trash collection for the surrounding sites.

From here, demonstrators collect bottles of water, free of charge, as well as supplies such as cooling packs, wet towels or surgical masks.

In addition, pairs of individuals often are sent into the crowd with boxes of food and water to keep demonstrators nourished. Others volunteer to be trash collectors, living up to the movement’s reputation as a polite protest.

Tensions have momentarily eased but there is a cautious understanding of the volatility of the situation. Umbrellas used a protection against tear gas and pepper spray remain stockpiled in make-shift supply tents.

Drawings and signs posted on abandoned buses refer to the “June 4 Bloodbath.” The reference is to the 1989 assault by China’s People’s Liberation Army on unarmed demonstrators at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square after nearly two months of protest.

Still, even in the aftermath of the Hong Kong police’s recent use of pepper spray and tear gas, protesters remain committed.

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