New pro-democracy protesters sweep the streets of Hong Kong after huge crowds occupied a main city road connecting Wanchai to the Central financial area. This marks the largest demonstration till now as a part of the “Occupy Central with Peace and Love” operation.
Journalists dubbed the protests as “The Umbrella Revolution” as a reference to the fact that protesters had umbrellas to protect themselves against pepper spray and teargas attacks, while also sheltering them from the sun.
There was no police force present on Monday evening and no incidents were reported, with the mood being festive. Protesters joined in a large rendition of the revolutionaries’ song “Do You Hear The People Sing” from the Les Miserables musical.
Most of the protesters are young and wear black with yellow ribbons.
According to Chan Kinman, one of the Occupy Central with Peace and Love founders, declared:
“We hope it will continue until at least 1 October. Then we will announce new actions. It is not realistic for people to occupy Central forever. We have to be careful not to invite a backlash. Any civil disobedience has to be proportionate and at a certain time we have got to stop.”
Students threatened to increase protests in the event that demands are not addressed until Wednesday. This is because Beijing announced tight restrictions on the candidates allowed in the 2017 chief executive elections. Universal suffrage was promised and not offered. Protesters see the decision of the officials as an attempt to erode the culture and freedom of the region.
During Monday, US and Britain urged leaders to adhere to universal suffrage promise and show restraint. The current protests started as a student strike and quickly expanded because police used teargas on Sunday to clear the streets.
Most of the people that participated in the protests on Monday were not Occupy Central supporters or even protesters. They said that the reason why they appeared on the streets is the response of the police.
According to Chan, a long time was spent on educating people so that the protest would not be violent. The protesters showed restraint even when faced with teargas attacks. He declared:
“We can’t control it at the operational level, but the spiritual level, and I’m quite confident Hong Kong people have changed in their views of struggle and resistance.
We imagined there would be a great crowd of people as spectators, and only thousands would sit in. But look: they are not afraid to sit in, not afraid of teargas. It is beyond my imagination how tough people are fighting for democracy.”
The government announced that the riot police was removed from the streets and that citizens calmed down. People are urged to disperse and unblock the roads while police declare that they did not use more than minimal force levels. However, the intervention of the police did bring in more protesters and there is no sign that they will go home.