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Notes on the HK demonstrations

September 28, 2014

I was going to a bitcoin event at Wan Chai, when I decided to stop by Admiralty station at around 6:15 p.m. What seemed to have happened was that around 2:00 the demonstration at Tamar was slowing down, and the police blocked Tamar. People went online to get people to surround the police.

By the time I got to Admiralty at 6:15 p.m. the demonstration was in full swing. The MTR station was rather crowded and there were MTR people trying to get people not to stay in the station. They were asking people not to go out exit A for our safety, but no one was listening. I started going up exit A, then went back down because it seemed too crowded. I went up exit C. While I was there I noticed that there were a lot of students bringing up boxes of water and food. I couldn’t get any sense of how widespread the crowd was or how many people were there, since I couldn’t see much of the demonstration. Almost everyone there looked college age. One thing that I noticed was that there seemed to be a lot of couples.

When I got up to the surface, I found that there were crowds of college students, and they were extremely organized. They had a food/water supply station and they were very busily sending biscuits and bottled water to the “front lines.” They were moving extremely fast. There was someone there who seemed to be coordinating, and from time to time he would shout something. For example “I need plastic bags” and people would throw plastic bags to him. Everyone was very excited and very busy. There was a lot of chanting, and from time to time you’d hear applause, although from my angle, I couldn’t see why.

It’s hard to describe the psychological feeling of being in this mass movement. I doubt anyone cared for any deep political discussions, and everyone including me just got swept along into the feeling of the moment. There was just a lot of stuff to do. One thing I found interesting was that politically I am pretty unsympathetic to the demonstrators, but once you are in a crowd, something about your mind just changes and you feel like being part of the group.

I went to Wai Chai for the bitcoin event at 6:30. There were people coming into the station and out of the station, but it seemed like the crowd was getting bigger. We had an after event at a bar. Wanchai seemed rather normal, but at some time in the evening (I think it was 9:00) we saw people who were walking toward the Waichai MTR from the direction of Admiralty. This was after the closed the Admiralty MTR station. Once people made it to Wanchai, everyone seemed very calm, and it felt like people leaving some sort of rock concert. Wanchai station was pretty crowded but it was all people going home, and in contrast to the crowd at Admiralty earlier, no one seemed agitated. There were crowds of people on the street, but they were milling around looking at their smart phones. It was a completely different feeling. When I was at Admiralty, I felt as if everyone was merging identity into the crowd, whereas in at Wanchai, it was just a lot of people milling around.

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