Crowds at Hong Kong’s lunchtime demonstrations shrank further on Wednesday as only a few dozen protesters showed up in two of Hong Kong’s business districts, Cheung Sha Wan and Central.
At 1.15pm, about 30 people gathered at the junction of Cheung Lai Street and Cheung Shun Street in the industrial district of Cheung Sha Wan chanting slogans, such as “Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times” and “five demands, not one less”. The crowd grew bigger to only about 100 at its peak later.
About two dozen riot police officers had been guarding the intersection even before protesters showed up. Police presence was also heavy on nearby roads, including Cheung Sha Wan Road, Castle Peak Road, and Tai Nan West Street.
Although the protest was largely peaceful, a verbal dispute broke out between around five protesters and riot police on Cheung Sha Wan Road, when the demonstrators hurled abuses at the officers. No arrest was made.
Wearing school uniform and a gas mask, Form Two student James said he had been joining the lunchtime protests since last Friday.
“I am not afraid of being arrested or told off by the school,” he said. “As long as there are ways to take part in a political expression, I will continue to join.”
A Dutch textile buyer, who did not want to be named, was surprised to see full-gear riot police in the busy working district. “It’s the first time I have seen riot police here,” he said.
Last week, some 100 protesters brought traffic to a halt at the same intersection in Cheung Sha Wan.
But on Wednesday, the demonstration was largely peaceful as protesters only walked along the pavements.
Hong Kong protesters have succeeded in getting the government to withdraw the extradition bill which triggered the unrest, over fears that fugitives might be sent to mainland China, among other jurisdictions with which Hong Kong has no exchange arrangements.
But they have four other demands: an independent inquiry into allegations of police brutality; an end to referring to the protests as riots; amnesty for all those arrested during the protests; and universal suffrage.
At IFC Mall in Central, dozens of protesters held posters and chanted similar slogans, singing the protest song Glory to Hong Kong.
Demonstrators also kicked off their march in Kowloon Commerce Centre in Kwai Chung, with some sticking Post-it notes in Kowloon Bay.
In early November, thousands of office workers showed up in Central occupying major throughways. Later that month, flash-mob demonstrations expanded to a more citywide movement, covering more districts such as Tai Koo, Causeway Bay and Wong Chuk Hang. Traffic in various areas was disrupted as protesters marched on the lanes and set up roadblocks.
Last Friday, tensions escalated during a lunchtime demonstration as police used pepper spray against a crowd of protesters on Pedder Street after demonstrators heckled officers. One man was arrested in the clash.