**Again, I will not be expressing political views on this blog entry. I am simply expressing what I saw last night. Nothing more, nothing less.**
A few nights ago Shane Titus, my good friend, and new dad to a beautiful baby girl, asked me to join him on a walk to Occupy Central on was said to be the busiest night of the whole protest. October 1st.
The physical approach to the demonstrations this time would be different. We would start in Causeway Bay and work our way towards the protest through Wan Chai, into Admiralty, and finally out the other side of it in the Central District.
We began in Causeway Bay on Hennessey Road where there were about 2,000 or so protestors sitting in with many signs and one person doing most of the talking.
We continued our walk down Hennessey, mostly on the road itself, as it had, and still is, closed off to traffic. It's a surreal experience walking in the middle of a road that is normally for vehicles. It's a very satisfying and freeing experience in many ways.
After a short time, Admiralty neared. Approaching Admiralty wasn't hard, besides having to walk through Lockhart Rd and being solicited by the occasional lady-of-the-night. Awkward, but hilarious.
The walk through Admiralty itself took a lot longer than the previous day as there was more to see and experience. There were a lot more people but not in a unbearable way by any means. Between navigating through the thickest of the crowds, and out the other side of the gated area near Central took about 45 minutes to an hour.
Shane and I finished the night with a reflection/conversation at Holly Brown's coffee shop. A joyful way to finish the night to say the least.
Tonight was a bit different from my exposure to it on the afternoon walk I had a few days prior. But not significantly so. The safety, the cleanliness, the joy and spirit of the protestors were still high. Very high. I could have pushed a shelf full of expensive China through the place and it would have come out without a scratch. Courtesy, politeness, passion, and positive energy abounded.
All of the protestors were well fed, well hydrated and kept cool. The place was insanely clean. Along the various supports holding the pedways and overpasses were piles of properly sorted recycling and garbage. All throughout the protest were garbage bags. All in good condition. none misused or spilled over.
I, admittedly, did wonder where they all went to the bathroom, as I could not see any port-a-potties, or anything of the like around. Good bladders on those protestors, I must admit.
There were a few differences though....and none of them bad. For one, the people. Shane and I estimated that between all the occupied areas, that we went through, and the others we didn't, there were between 300,000 and 500,000 people involved in some capacity in the protest that night. That's
somewhere between 4% - 7% of the whole population of Hong Kong involved in the movement. The population of Hong Kong is 7.5 million people, thereabouts.
A third key difference was the presence of the yellow ribbons. People were handing them out everywhere and almost everyone was supporting it. I have rarely seen a protest that ran into such overwhelming support than this one. I didn't hear a single naysayer, or person trying to contradict it. The only vague thing I encountered was a local man talking rather passionately to a few other westerners about how he had been inconvenienced going to work for a few days.
A fourth difference were the various banners. During the day walk I did on Monday, there were a few visuals scattered here and there. This time they were everywhere. Hanging from the pedways, people carrying them, written on umbrellas, hanging from tents. Some with writing, others depicting politicians or even Pokemon characters. All with the same message: the people of Hong Kong want a fully democratic election. And they want the current Chief Executive removed from his current position.
A final key difference was the lack of security/police presence. They could not be seen anywhere along the road from Causeway to Central. The only presence we saw was on a hill, where there were about 15 - 20 large police vans and policeman waiting on a side road. Unarmed. But in uniform. Apparently most of the riot police were stationed in various car parks above and around Admiralty area in case they needed to be called in. I did not see them, so cannot comment on the validity of this. All I do know is that their lack of presence seemed to make it easier to walk through.
A slightly amusing observation was the many lights in the office windows of the People's Republic office building in Admiralty, and the obviously large binoculars they were using to observe the demonstrations.