Hundreds of people gathered across Hong Kong for a mournful, yet rage-filled, impromptu march this afternoon to mark the passing of a university student who died this morning after sustaining a brain injury in a fall during a protest earlier this week.
Chow Tsz-lok, 22, was declared dead just after 8am this morning due to a sudden cardiac arrest. He was taken to hospital in a coma in the early hours of Monday morning after he fell one story inside the car park of a Tseung Kwan O housing estate after police fired tear gas in the area to disperse protesters in the area.
Hundreds of people — mostly office workers — gathered at Chater Garden at 12:30pm this afternoon and walked along De Voeux Road Central up to Central Market and back, blocking traffic along the way. As they marched, they chanted slogans such as “Five demands, not one less,” and “Disband the Hong Kong Police Force.”
When the city’s long-running protest movement first kicked off, demonstrators frequently chanted “Hongkongers, add oil!” — a general shout of encouragement. As the movement, and the police response, intensified over the past few months — and particularly since a widely loathed mask ban was enforced — that chant morphed into “Hongkongers, resist!”
Today, following news of Chow’s death, that slogan had curdled into “Hongkongers, revenge!”
Protesters are now chanting "Hongkongers, revenge" pic.twitter.com/uv5eJNas79
— Vicky Wong 黃瑋殷 (@vickywong710) November 8, 2019
Tsang Kin-shing — a former pro-dem lawmaker known as “The Bull” — was at the front of the the rally, describing today as “a day full of grief and sorrow.”
He told Coconuts HK that people were in Central today not just to mourn the death of Chow — as well as those of protesters who have taken their own lives since protests began — but also to remember those who “got beaten by these corrupt cops.”
“My heart ached when I heard the news about Chow’s death,” Tsang said, repeating calls for an independent inquiry into police brutality against protesters. “We can’t protect these children because these corrupt cops keep beating them up. I don’t want that to keep happening.”
The circumstances surrounding Chow’s death remain mysterious, and there does not appear to be CCTV footage of his actual fall from the car park’s third floor to its second. It was initially believed that he fell accidentally while fleeing tear gas, though conflicting accounts have made the rounds online.
Even amid the uncertainty, Chow’s closely watched case has been the cause of an outpouring of public anger at police — some of it exacerbated by unsubstantiated rumors he was pushed in the car park by an officer — and protesters have since returned to Tseung Kwan O to voice their anger.
Since news of Chow’s death emerged, calls have gone out to protesters on Telegram and LIHKG to rally all over Hong Kong.
As of press time, traffic on Chater Road had just returned to normal after protesters moved out of the street and onto the sidewalk.
There were also reports of protesters gathering in Kwun Tong and Mong Kok. Calls are also circulating for protesters to gather outside the car park in Tseung Kwan O where Chow fell at 8pm tonight.
Here is our 8th November thread on the day it was announced student Chow Tsz-lok has passed away. Flash mob chanting slogans in APM Mall, Kwun Tong pic.twitter.com/oS7kjr5Lvr
— Harbour Times (@harbourtimes) November 8, 2019
Students also gathered today at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, where Chow studied computer science, for a memorial service and rally to mourn his passing. Hours earlier, the university had to end a graduation ceremony on campus early after reports of Chow’s death first broke.
#NOW in UST, alma mater of late student Alex Chow, black clad students are condemning police brutality and ignorance of university management in an urgent rally mourning Chow’s passing. pic.twitter.com/h6FW5i8Gb4
— Xinqi Su 蘇昕琪 (@XinqiSu) November 8, 2019
Representatives from the HKUST student union, meanwhile, are demanding answers regarding the circumstances surrounding Chow’s death.
It’s not clear from media reports if an inquest will be held into Chow’s death. According to the Coroner’s Ordinance, inquests are held in cases where the death is either sudden, suspicious, caused by an accident or violence, or when the dead body is found in or brought into Hong Kong.
The government also offered its condolences in a statement, saying the authorities “expressed great sorrow and regret over the death of a student from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and extended sympathies to his family.”