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Hullabaloo


Monday, September 29, 2014

 
A protest made in Hong Kong

by Tom Sullivan

Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong continue. As financial district crowds swelled Monday (reports conflict on this), riot police pulled back, CNN reported, to chants of "Stand down CY Leung!" (Leung is Hong Kong's current chief executive). Protesters demanded elections free of interference from Beijing.
“The people of Hong Kong want freedom and want democracy!” a protest leader yelled into a megaphone as demonstrators — many of them university students — donned goggles, covered themselves in plastic wrap and held up umbrellas to shield themselves in case they were hit with tear gas or pepper spray. “Redeem the promise of a free election!” chanted the crowd.
With Washington focused on the Middle East, there was a tepid show of support from U.S. officials — and nothing from the White House that I could find — as pro-democracy protesters calling themselves Occupy Central with Love and Peace faced a police crackdown in Hong Kong on Sunday and into the early hours Monday.
The U.S. State Department said in a statement on Sunday that Washington supported Hong Kong’s well-established traditions and fundamental freedoms, such as peaceful assembly and expression.
The outbursts surprised some residents, the Guardian reported Sunday. People there are usually more interested in working and making money:
In many ways it was a very Hong Kong protest, down to the protesters who politely explained that they would not be present the next day as they needed to go to work. 
But the resident saw something unique in the exuberance and spontaneity of the peaceful crowd – preempting plans to launch the civil-disobedience movement on Wednesday, a national holiday – combined with the tough tactics of the police. It is the first time officers have fired teargas in Hong Kong for almost a decade.
But the police response over the weekend changed that:
"Before dinner, I never would have imagined that I would join [the protests]," Candy Lam, a 32-year-old bank employee, said.
"I thought it was unhelpful to confront the Communist Party in this way, and that we could find other ways to negotiate, but tonight is too much. I saw the 6 pm news and so many of us cried in front of the television." 
A 57-year-old construction worker, who only wanted to be identified by his last name, Ng, said he saw the tear gas on television and decided to join the protest then and there.
As of 7 a.m. EDT this morning, streaming video was still available here.

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