An anti-extradition bill protester fell to his death yesterday after unfurling a banner on a set of scaffolding outside Hong Kong’s Pacific Place Mall, apparently while attempting to get away from firefighters who had gone to the scene to persuade him to come down.
Apple Daily identified the man as a 35-year-old surnamed Leung, who was spotted on the scaffolding at about 4pm, shortly after Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that the legislature would “pause” its work on the controversial extradition amendments, which would allow renditions to mainland China for the first time in decades.
The bill proved so unpopular that not only had it drawn criticism from seemingly every corner of society, it also prompted the largest demonstrations Hong Kong has seen since the handover, including one on Wednesday just outside of Pacific Place that descended into violence and chaos as riot police sought to disperse the crowd with tear gas and rubber bullets.
The man’s banner read “No extradition to China, total withdrawal of the extradition bill, we are not rioters, release the students and injured, Carrie Lam step down, help Hong Kong,” and his yellow raincoat was emblazoned with the phrase “Black Cops” — a common insult in the days since Wednesday’s violence.
The Apple Daily report suggests that firefighters at the scene had offered the man some water, but at one point, he apparently decided not to cooperate, and climbed onto the outside of the scaffolding.
Video from the scene (which some viewers may find disturbing) shows firefighters trying to pull the man back onto the scaffolding by his shirt, which ultimately slips off, sending the man plummeting to the pavement below.
HKFP reports that firefighters had placed a large inflatable cushion on the ground below, but the man missed it when he fell.
Pro-democracy legislator Roy Kwong had been at the scene in an effort to talk the man down, while onlookers in the video can be heard yelling “Don’t do something stupid,” and, “We’ve still got to fight tomorrow,” a reference to today’s march from Victoria Park to the Legislative Council.
The man was rushed to Ruttonjee Hospital, where he was ultimately pronounced dead at about 9:30pm.