The reporter who translated the chants for me at the protest asked me this question.
She wasn’t impressed with my itinerary so far with my having arrived in Hong Kong during a time of unrest. She thought I’d be better off on a beach somewhere.
So how have I ended at another protest? (I am writing this as the protest begins).
I decided to explore Kowloon this morning and, having left behind the Sunday morning Kung Fu classes, I headed down to the Museums on the waterfront.
I passed two closed tube stations. MTR staff said this was on police orders.
As I reached the Museum of Art, there were thousands of people gathering and organisers handing out water, posters and stickers.
So that’s why the Metro is closed. It’s presumably to stop protesters getting here but it stops non participants leaving easily… and yet the buses still appeared to be running.
The characters on a huge black banner were explained to me by two men who said they were a criticism of police brutality. I asked them to point out the characters for ‘police’s because I had seen a woman jumping up and down on a specific section of the banner before walking on.
That was the section so the three of us concluded she was supportive of the protest.
This girl was being interviewed about her protest quilt. Anyone can add to it by sending a 15cm x 15cm square.
There are stickers and banners everywhere, showing the crowds’ concern with the police, the Hong Kong administration and the Chinese government.
Amid the singing, and chants of “Long live Hong Kong”, the atmosphere is good natured. There are all ages of people here.
Most of them are trying to gather in the shade. It is a hot day and the organisers are giving out water and tea… showing great concern for the welfare and wellbeing of the people are supporting the protest.
Three hours later and I am watching the crowd continue to work it’s way up Nathan Road. This protest was not authorised so routes were not cleared and sheer weight of numbers forced people along Salisbury Road (on the waterfront) and up parallel roads.
I couldn’t begin to tell you the numbers of people attending but it took around three hours for the waterfront to clear.
The atmosphere has continued to be good natured throughout the afternoon. There are people of all ages here.
However, there is always a small number of idiots who will take advantage of a protest. There has been vandalism of the tube stations.
The shops and businesses up Nathan Road have closed for the day and brought down the shutters.
In my view, the actions of these few tarnished the reputation of the protesters. Some people I have spoken to think they are paid by the government. Others think they are just morons.
I’ve been watching the protest for several hours and I’ve walked only a small part of the way with the people.
I have found everyone that I have encountered to be friendly and keen to explain what the chants and slogans mean.
Some are expecting to be tear gassed as the protest ends further into Kowloon. However, they still came to make their voices heard.
At 4pm, the police arrived in huge numbers. The vans, minibuses and cars raced up Nathan Street, up to the Mosque. Some went down a side street.
At the same time I saw blue water being hosed over the protesters.
As the police raced up the road, a crowd of people moved after them, shouting, filming and photographing – a reminder of witnesses.
I presume a similar force met the protesters at the other end of the road. I could be wrong.
Behind the police people, not all of them protesters, began dismantling scaffolding, barriers and pulling up cobbles to create obstructions in the road.
At the same time, someone in one of the apartments above the street threw glass bottles down to the road. People in the crowd started shouting at him and pointing.
Whether he was trying to provoke fights in the street or demonstrate his disapproval of the protest and the obstructions, I don’t know.
The police by now had moved some way up the road and I could no longer see them.
People remain watching at the foot of Nathan Road and, as I walked away, I saw this apology written on the wall.