Fiery night in Mongkok

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On 24 May 2020, the day started with a failed attempt to mobilize protesters against the national anthem bill. This attempt was foiled by a huge police deployment in Causeway Bay and Admiralty and mass arrests. Despite this, protesters managed nevertheless to create a fiery night in Mongkok.

Difficult mobilization

New police tactics at work since the beginning of the year based themselves on heavy preemptive deployments and stop and search.Such tactics have successfully disrupted protesters’ chances to group together and create a “critical mass”.

Riot police raise blue flag in Causeway bay
Riot police raise blue flag in Causeway Bay

The other major reason for successfully being able to quash protests has been the massive deployment of stop and searches tactics, which disorganized the capacity of protesters to group, while also allowing the police to arrest people carrying tools for protests.

Riot police threaten protesters with pepper
Hong Kong, China, 27 May 2020 A policeman threatens journalists and office workers with pepper spray in Causeway Bay.

Agitated night

After the initial failure during the day, Mongkok saw groups meeting up and chanting slogans all over the place.

Protesters chant slogans
Protesters chant slogans in Mongkok

At a point, the legislator Ted Hui was trying to “calm down” (according to his own statement) the police (and actually just irritating them more). But it was about to become a fiery night in Mongkok.

Ted Hui facing off with the police
The legislator Ted Hui facing off with a member of PPRB (police media liaison).

Behind this scene, some dozen protesters kept chanting slogans. All of a sudden, the police charged on, and journalists followed… only to come across a blaze on Sai Yeung Choi South street.

Explosive fire in Mongkok

It generated quite a bit of panic among the police who, themselves, got scared with the fiery explosions. The spectacular fire was made possible by throwing in pressurized canisters of flammable goods such as tyre repair, lighter fluids, etc.

Fire dying out
The bonfire dies out

Eventually, the fuel went out, and the fire brigade put out the last embers of the fire.

Hide and seek

In something that would become a constant in the upcoming months, protesters then started a hide and seek game with the police, chanting slogans, then dispersing among the shoppers of the populous area.In a now routine practice, protesters kept to the back, chanting and running away when police swept in.

Police with pepper spray at the ready
Police with pepper spray at the ready.

As the evening unfolded, the protesters finally managed to obtain enough space to occupy and block Nathan road.

Protesters occupy Nathan road
Protesters occupy Nathan road

Most of the disruption was actually caused not by protesters, but by the hoards of journalists occupying Nathan road to take a pic of the three people occupying Nathan Road…

In a later stage, police carried out several charges, among which, one on Argyle street, where there were protesters.

Riot police charge on Argyle Street
Riot police charge on Argyle street.

The final move was a concerted move on all streets of Mongkok, pushing forward protesters and journalists. At the time, the police had not yet started carrying out its multiple dragnets to catch protesters and journalists.

27 May was the first realization among protesters that the tide had definitely turned since last year. For the first time, massive police deployments had killed any hope of starting a protest, let alone gather any critical mass. The consequence was that in the months thereafter, such on July 1st, anything that took place was just a last hurray. In fact, after July and the adoption of the National Security Law, we saw a steady stream of activists leaving Hong Kong.

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