Entire freeways shut down, thousands of people pouring through Queens Road, buses abandoned in the street, people shoulder to shoulder over-taking highway ramps, a cluster of people in the distance getting tear gassed, ants marching, people screaming, eyes watering, ambulances taking people away, people watching from bridges above, strangers giving me water, towels, and masks, chanting, armored guards in gas masks and riot shields launching canisters and pushing us back, protesters building barricades and guards knocking them down, three inches from them, I am the front line, filming, photographing, and covering my mouth with my wet bandana, police unprepared, gassing us at close range, people running, screaming, crying, scattering, too many people moving too quickly, could be trampled, I’m not scared, these moments aren’t scary, they are the only times when I feel calm, the people around connecting, being human.
The news is going to tell a story about brave protesters and the impending China reign. They’ll talk about how unfairly these poor Hong Kong people were being treated. The battles will be glorified and the people of Hong Kong will feel proud of their efforts. But they’ll lose. Nothing will change, except the continued reduction of their independence. Hong Kong is losing their ability to elect candidates to run for Chief Executive, the equivalent of a US president. Instead, Beijing will select only two candidates for the Hong Kong voters to choose from. It’s a major step in the wrong direction for democracy in Hong Kong. China will continue to push them until they are flat on their backs.
Occupy Central can be remembered as a moment of tremendous national pride and human connection, but it’s really a sad example of how poorly equipped these people are to fight for what matters to them.
Sunday night in Hong Kong will go down in history. People will read about the Occupy Central protests it in the news, talk about it with friends, and send messages to loved ones. I don’t’ live in Hong Kong, the decisions here won’t affect my life, but I still stood in the front row and fought off tear gas with a few good friends while the riot police boxed us in. I stood there hoping something was going to happen, that the people were going to stand up and fight. But instead they were pushed around like colonized ants and it hurt me to watch. I can’t imagine standing idly while my life was left in someone else’s hands.
Peaceful protesting can be effective, and it will give you goosebumps to experience, but they are going to lose their freedom and somehow they are just sitting on the sidewalk. They would rather the world notice them for their patience than fight for their future. I’m sad for Hong Kong. It’s sad to watch the effects of an oppressed culture trying to stand up for themselves. They simply don’t know what to do.
That being said, I respect and admire the people here. They have incredible hearts and a lot of patience.
Here are the pictures and video I captured of Occupy Central in Hong Kong.