All images by Anthony Tao
“No extradition to China, oppose evil law” — 返送中, 抗恶法 (fǎn sòng zhōng, kàng è fǎ) — so went the refrain on Sunday in Hong Kong during one of the largest protests in the city’s history, in which hundreds of thousands walked west from Victoria Park to the city’s Legislative Council Complex in Admiralty in opposition to a proposed extradition bill.
Critics fear Beijing could use the new amendment as a tool against political enemies, and in the grander scheme of things threaten the city’s judicial independence.
People began congregating at Victoria Park and in the streets surrounding Causeway Bay — underneath the sort of upmarket advertisements for which downtown Hong Kong is known — at around 3 pm:
Even at the relatively early time of 4 pm, a logjam was forming at Victoria Park, where people waited to file out into the street along a designated route toward Admiralty.
Things were only getting started. Here was the Admiralty subway stop at 4:30 pm for trains going in the direction of Causeway Bay, two stops away:
These were people eager to participate in the march from the starting point. There were similar scenes at other stations.
Around 7 pm, here’s what Hennessy Road at Admiralty, not far from the legislative offices, looked like (peering east, where the marchers were coming from):
Looking west, where everyone — wearing white, the color of the protest — was headed:
A bit east of Admiralty, closer to the march’s starting point, this was the scene in Wan Chai around 8 pm:
Police estimate fewer than 300,000 people took part in the march, a number so laughably low it’s not worth mentioning. Organizers put the number at 1.03 million, which is within reason but also could be an overestimate — there were many people hanging around the nearby roads or peeking down from bridges who can hardly be counted as “participating.” The exact number isn’t all that important, though. Those who saw the protests are unlikely to forget.
The two-mile march was clean and orderly, with demonstrators cheered on by spectators on footbridges and overpasses. For the most part they stayed within designated protest zones, and it was possible, if one was two blocks away in either direction, to not notice the history-making protest. By midnight, most of the demonstrators had dispersed, though scuffles did break out near the legislative council offices.
Here’s what Hennessy Road at Admiralty looked like at 10:20 pm (not a speck of trash in sight, which is almost as amazing as the turnout itself):
Ultimately, the protests rallied Hong Kong people under the same banner in an incredible display of solidarity, but did little to sway any decision-makers. Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, for instance, basically shrugged.
Another protest is scheduled for Wednesday, when the legislative council will do a second reading of the extradition bill.
UPDATE: Wednesday’s protest: