Following months of government-ordered social distancing measures, hundreds of Hong Kong protesters turned up to shopping malls over the weekend to continue their fight for democracy.
After a 100-person protest at IFC during lunchtime on Friday, 300 people gathered at the Cityplaza shopping center last night to stage a “sing-along protest”. Protesters gathered across three floors of the Tai Koo Shing mall at around 6pm after a call to arms was posted online.
In between familiar chants like “Five demands, not one less” and “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our time”, protesters called for the release of 15 prominent pro-democracy advocates who were arrested last Saturday.
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However, uniformed police officers and riot police brandishing pepper spray and batons showed up just before 7pm, and began sealing off parts of the mall and ordering citizens to leave. Protesters were herded towards the exits as they sang “Glory to Hong Kong”, which has become an anthem of the pro-democracy movement.
Later, the police force issued a statement saying that anyone who had gathered at Cityplaza for the protest would be violating anti-coronavirus social distancing measures, even if they stayed in groups of four or maintained a distance of 1.5 meters from other groups. (Thankfully, they stopped short of trying to enforce the mask ban.)
While pro-democracy protests were a weekly occurrence in the second half of 2019, they have largely come to a standstill since the coronavirus outbreak hit Hong Kong in January. In the time since, pro-democracy activists have found creative ways to keep the fight alive, including virtual demonstrations — which led to mainland Chinese retailers banning Animal Crossing.