Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.
mr-absentia

A battle for the soul of the city: why violence has spiralled in the Hong Kong protests | World news | The Guardian

«Police brutality is not only strengthening protestors’ resolve, it has also swelled their numbers. Between the violent clashes, people have repeatedly turned out in their millions to protest heavy-handed policing; an independent inquiry has become a key demand at demonstrations.

The police have arrested more than 2,000 people, some as young as 12, the oldest in their 70s. The sight of injured protesters and mass detentions have spurred on others including many Hong Kong residents who say they previously shunned politics, to turn out in support.

“Before when people were gathering and they deployed so many riot police, some people would try to leave. Now they don’t,” said Cathy Lam, 24, part of a crowd of local residents from West Kowloon who waited hours to support protesters being arrested on a bus there. “You can see the conflict between police and citizens escalating day by day.”

There is a risk that violence – and the damage and shutdowns linked to chaotic protests – may alienate supporters, both in Hong Kong and overseas, and provide pro-Beijing critics with ammunition. Chinese state media widely reports examples of vandalism and attacks by protesters.

Yet so far, protesters have largely contained both the extent and focus of their violence, directing it at symbols of the government they are opposing. While authorities have denounced them as rioters, there is little of the random smashing and looting that characterises most riots.

“The so-called vandalism they have done is really exceptional, because here it is only focused on targets related to ‘injustice’ they see,” said professor Lawrence Ka-ki Ho, a specialist in policing and public order management at the Education University of Hong Kong.

“Most vandalism would have indiscriminate targets, but their targets are the metro stations, the police stations – not the luxurious shops, not M&S.”

For the police, by contrast, escalating violence has been disastrous, both sapping their support and bolstering opposition. Yet once authorities or protesters are locked into violence, it becomes difficult for either side to step away.

Negotiations to end the stand-off, which would always be fraught, are particularly problematic in Hong Kong, both because there are no real channels of communication between authorities and protesters, and also because the movement doesn’t have any identified leaders.

This is in part because of sweeping round-ups of prominent figures during past protests, and part reflection of the grassroots nature of the movement which has taken as its motto ‘be like water’ – fast-moving, powerful, but hard to grasp or block.

So even if city authorities want to negotiate, it is not clear if there is anyone with power to call people off the streets.»

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl