North East Asia Security
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This is an excerpt from my draft translation of “What happened in Hong Kong?” (2021) - a widely shared, free
Chinese language ebook that was compiled by a group of anonymous authors affiliated with Hong Kong’s pro-democracy
movement. The book discusses the history of the 2019 Anti-extradition Movement, including its causes, constitution, key
events/milestones, and legacy. While it presents an informed and well structured account of this important part of
Hong Kong’s modern history, its enormous value lies in its authors’ ability to draw from the experiences, insights
and perspectives of the movement’s “insiders.” As such, it contains details that could only be known by those
intimate with the movement, and it presents a narrative that differs markedly from that constructed by
China/Hong Kong’s state media, as well as the ‘outsider’ accounts of journalists and scholars. In order to
produce a complete English translation of this work, I am currently running a crowd-funding campaign on Pozible.
The finished product will be free for distribution.

Since this was originally written as a non academic book, this translation aims to balance the two objectives of
remaining faithful to the original, and being readible to non-Chinese readers who are completely unfamiliar with
Hong Kong’s history, society and culture. As my translation is in the draft phase, I welcome
comments/suggestions from readers.

NOTE: For legal reasons, I have added the word ‘alleged’ in incidences where allegations of misconduct/criminal
offences have not been upheld in a court of law.


Preface: What Happened in Hong Kong?

Over the last couple of years many people have been asking “What happened in Hong Kong?”
The millions that took to its streets in protest might each have their own answers.

The Anti-extradition Movement first broke out in 2019. Fake news about the movement has been
peddled by Hong Kong and Chinese state media sources and has become widespread. A
large amout of records were also compiled by non-state sources including the movement’s
participants, as well as journalists and scholars. However, as the movement underwent drastic
changes, the challenges of seeing through the filtered narratives of the state media machine, and
sifting through the enormous volume of information, made it hard to understand how the
movement had evolved. We imagine that many must be wondering: was the movement devised by
just a handful of radicals? Why did protesters continue to take to the streets after the extradition bill
was withdrawn? Why did the movement last for such a long time? How did this leader-less
movement organise itself? Was it fighting for Hong Kong’s independence from China? Did the
movement continue into 2020? What impact did the National Security Law have on the movement?

We began planning this book in spring 2020 to promote honest reflection and debate on these very
questions. Our aim was to discuss the movement’s historical context, and track the evolution of the
movement from when it was first triggered by the extradition bill in 2019 up until the spring of 2021.
The book reviews the movement’s historical context, structure and development systematically. Due to its
limited size, it doesn’t cover every detail. However, for those interested in knowing more, it provides
footnotes with references to media reports and interviews, QR codes which link to videos, and, at the
end of each chapter, a list of further readings.

This book contains seven chapters:
1. Historical context – the background to the Antiextradition Movement;
2. The Anti-extradition Movement;
3. How did the movement organise iteslf without leaders?;
4. Street protests;
5. Logistics and support networks;
6. Other forms of resistance;
7. The post-National Security Law period.

The 2019 protest movement had its roots in 30 years of Hong Kong democracy movements.
At the same time, it abandoned the modus oprandi of those earlier movements. The Historical context
chapter provides a three part historical outline of Hong Kong’s political environment
at the eve of the anti-extradition movement, and discusses the key factors that shaped this
environment. The first part provides a macro-perspective of the social contradictions resulting
from The political legacy of colonial rule. Part two reflects on Beijing’s thoughts on
governing Hong Kong, changes in the territory’s political economy, and the evolution of Hong
Kongers’ identity in the post-handover period. The final section looks into the political
ideologies of Hong Kong social movements, and shifts in relation to their repertoires of

While the trigger for the anti-extradition movement was the amended extradition bill, the
objectives of the movement quickly branched out into broader opposition to the government
and the police, as well as demands for more wholesale societal change. Chapter 2, titled
The Anti-extradition Movement, starts by looking at the amended bill that triggered the
movement, and delves into the movement’s developments between February 2019 (when the
Po Leung Kok charity group proposed the bill) and 30 June 2020 (when the National Security
Bill was gazetted). To make it easier for readers to understand this process, we divided it into
three stages, pointed out key events, and discussed shifts in the movement’s aims and tactics.
At the end of the chapter we answer often-raised questions such as what was the movement’s
public mandate, whether or not it was a Hong Kong independence movement, and what the
term laam caau means.

Chapter 3, titled How did the movement organise itself without leaders, is divided into
two sections. It looks into how demonstrators got together, mobilised themselves, and
participated in such large numbers despite being leaderless. The first section looks at
principles of action which were widely agreed upon by the movement’s participants such as
“Don’t cause division, don’t cut fellow protestors off, don’t be a snitch” 不分化、不割蓆、
不篤灰, and “no distinction between peaceful and pugnacious protesters” 和勇不分. Part
two introduces the New media platforms that were used to help participants communicate
and coordinate with each other. It looks into the roles these platforms played in the
movement, the clampdowns they were subjected to, and their limitations.

In the last half of 2019 the streets became the locus of direct resistance. It also became the site
where demonstrators gained shared experiences and connected with the broader movement.
The first part of Street protests looks into the Hong Kong police force’s violent crackdowns,
alleged use of torture and sexual violence, indiscriminate mass arrests, as well as acts of
extrajudicial violence perpetrated by government supporters. The second part discusses the
different forms of street protests and their tactics, including large scale peaceful demonstrations,
clashes, blocking roads and shutting down the city, si liu (extrajudicial forms of retaliatory
punishment), zong sau (‘renovationg’ = damaging property), and flash mob demonstrations. Large
scale demonstrations kept the vitality of the movement in the public eye, drove more people to
join in, and helped open up other ‘fronts’ for heaping pressure on the administration.

During the wave of protests a large number of the movement’s participants set up
logistics and support networks to meet the needs of demonstrators, and to keep protests going in
the face of government crackdowns and surveillance. Logistics and support networks looks at
the formation and operation of the networks behind The publicity team, Instant messaging,
Logistics networks, Medical aid and emotional support, and Support networks for protesters who were arrested.
These compact and resilient social networks became a vital node for connecting participants and helping
them sustain their connections. They also helped the movement take root in people’s lives and in
local communities.

Towards the end of 2019 crackdowns made street protests hard to sustain. The slack was taken
up by support networks, unions, the international and legislative fronts, and the yellow
economic circle. Other forms of resistance looks at the evolving roles of unions, the District
Council, and the yellow economic circle, as well as their practices, impacts and limitations. In
the beginning of 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic hit Hong Kong, and as this became a new political focal
point, networks formed during the movement mobilised to became agents for society to ‘fight the
pandemic ourselves.’

On 30 June 2020 the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed the Hong Kong National
Security Law. The next day the Hong Kong government announced the law’s implementation. The National
Security Law was more than just a piece of legislation – its ideological tenets and approach to governance
marked a new era. The Post-National Security Law period provides a summary discussion on the political
implications of the legislation. Delving into ideology, mass prosecutions, the legislative front, and
civil society networks, it addresses how the government combined this legislation with pre-existing legal
and political tools to crack down on and control civil societies.

When this book was about to be published over 10,000 people had already been arrested and were
facing unfair trails and lengthy sentences. From the beginning of 2020 it seemed that the tear gas
had cleared and the disturbing images of the prior year had faded. However, after the
implementation of the National Security Law, authoritarian state control, and a massive societal
transformation, rapidly unfolded. The front line of resistance shifted from the streets to every facet
of Hong Konger’s lives. History was quietly being rewritten, and the traces of the movement were
being erased, drowned out by the state media machine’s own version of the ‘truth’ of what occurred
in 2019. Yet in spite of this, the people did not forget what really happened. In that year, tens of
thousands of Hong Kongers were no longer content to be quiet and docile. They jumped into action
to resist the authorities’ march towards oppression, and showed them that “the new normal is the
problem.” After 2019 the people of Hong Kong no longer pretended that life could go on as before.
We are in a dark moment of time, but this is also the very moment to come together and forge our

This book was written for those who resisted the legislation that were imprisoned, that had marched
on the streets, and that had taken up the struggle and never gave up hope. It is also written for those
who want to understand the protest movement. Unfortunately, what we have compiled does not
cover the movement in its entirety, and merely provides snippets for readers who want to know
more about Hong Kong. We hope it helps us breach the walls that divide us, opens up dialogue, and
serves as a starting point for forging new connections and continuing the fight.

What Happened in Hong Kong?

Table of Contents

1. Historical context – the background to the Anti-extradition Movement

1.1. The political legacy of colonial rule
1.1.1 Corporatocracy and the lack of democracy
1.1.2 Colonial period riot control laws
1.1.3 Hong Kong’s ‘return’ to China and the remnants of colonialism
1.2. Political shifts in China and Hong Kong
1.2.1 1997-2003 – Article 23 and Beijing’s economic concessions
1.2.2 2003-2008 – Increased interactions with China and a strengthening Chinese identity
1.2.3 2008-2014 – Conflict between Hong Kong and China
1.2.4 2014-2019 – Beijing tightens the reins
1.2.5 A graphical representation of how Hong Kong changed after the handover
1.3. The evolution of social movements in Hong Kong
1.3.1 1980-1990 – The democracy movement and controversies surrounding the transfer of sovereignty
1.3.2 2003 – The 1 July marches
1.3.3 2003-2013 – The Hundred Flowers Campaign
1.3.4 2009 – The nascent split in the Pan-democracy camp
1.3.5 2011-2013 – The emergence of Localist groups
1.3.6 2012 – The anti-national education campaign
1.3.7 2013 – Occupy Central
1.3.8 2014 – The Umbrella Movement
1.3.9 The rise of Localist groups
1.3.10 The eruption of the anti-extradition movement

2. The Anti-extradition Movement

2.0. The trigger: The Amended Extradition Bill
Opposition from all corners
The government’s response
2.1. The first phase: Anti-extradition demonstrations and the first use of tear gas
(March – 30 June, 2019)
2.1.1 Mobilising people to fight the extradition bill
2.1.2 The surrounding of the Legislative Council building and the first use of teargas
2.2. The second phase: The Five Demands and the radicalisation of demonstrations
(1 July – 18 November, 2019)
2.2.1 Setting out the Five Demands
2.2.2 The ‘streets’ as the main theatre of resistance
2.2.3 Opening up new fronts
2.2.4 Siege at Hong Kong Polytechnic University – street protests heat up and hit their limit
2.3. The third phase: Keeping up the fight through fighting the virus – the development
and intertwining of new fronts
(19 November 2019 – 30 June 2020)
2.3.1 The legislature, unions, the ‘yellow economic circle’ and the international front
2.3.2 The District Council Elections: Victory to the will of the people
2.3.3 Running in the Legislative Council Elections: Paralysing the government, exposing the crackdown
2.3.4 Keeping up the fight through fighting the virus
2.3.5 The enactment of the National Security Law
2.4. Questions you might have about the anti-extradition movement
Q1 Who were the movement’s participants?
Q2 Did the public support the movement?
Q3 What is laam caau?
Q4 Was the anti-extradition movement a Hong Kong independence movement?

3. How did the movement organise itself without leaders?

3.1 The consensus around ‘group cooperation’
3.1.1 Leaderless but taking the initiative
3.1.2 “Don’t create division, don’t cut others off, don’t be a snitch,” and “Each of us has to do our bit”
3.1.3 “Peaceful and pugnacious protesters shouldn’t leave each other behind”
3.2 New media platforms: Participants’ mediums of communication
3.2.1 The new platforms used by the movement
3.2.2 LIHKG: The platform for posting and publicising the movement’s tactics and action plans
3.2.3 Telegram: A site for crowdsourcing and anonymous participation
3.2.4 Government surveillance and clampdown
3.2.5 The limitations of ‘new media platforms’

4. Street protests

4.1 The government’s violent crackdown
4.1.1 The use of force, torture and sexual violence
4.1.2 Mass arrests and prosecutions
4.1.3. Extrajudicial Violence
4.2 Street protests
4.2.1 Large scale peaceful protests
4.2.2 Clashes
4.2.3 ‘Guerrilla’ Tactics: Blocking roads and shutting down the city
4.2.4 Si liu and zong sao
4.2.5 Flash mob demonstrations Human chains Sing with You Lunch with you

5. Support and Logistics Networks

5.1 ‘Publicity team’: Informing and mobilising the masses
5.1.1 Production Integrating information: What happened? How should we read information? Mobilising people into action: What can we do? How do we do it? Build consensus: synchronise protesters’ demands, gain community support
5.1.2 Dissemination Lennon walls Street stands
5.2 Instant messaging: Sharing information about activities
5.3 Logistics networks: Backing up those on the streets
5.3.1 Open source platforms: Collecting and distributing resources, coordinating services
5.3.2 ‘Parent’ networks: A people-focused security network
5.4 Medical and emotional support networks
5.4.1 Volunteer emergency workers
5.4.2 Volunteer medical teams
5.4.3 Emotional support networks
5.5 Support networks for protesters who were arrested
5.1 Legal support
5.2 Court auditors, live courtside broadcasters, supporters who see off police vans
5.3 Support for prisoners
5.4 After-prison employment support
5.6 Where did these networks go after the streets fell silent?

6. Other forms of resistance

6.1 The new wave of union actions
6.1.1 Labor movements of the past
6.1.2 Workers actions during the anti-extradition movement
6.1.3 The catalyst behind the new union wave
6.1.4 The new unions during the pandemic
6.1.5 The significance and challenges of the new union wave
6.2 The District Council
6.2.1 The District Council in the past
6.2.2 Anti-extradition activists seize the Council
6.2.3 Electoral victories
6.2.4 Putting ideals into practice
6.2.5 Significance and challenges
6.3 The ‘yellow economic circle’
6.3.1 Formation
6.3.2 Practices
6.3.3 Significance and challenges

7. The post-National Security Law period

Epilogue: There are still people carrying the torch

Chapter 4 - Street Protests

Image source - Studio Incendo

Street protests were the first front line of the anti-extradition movement. In the second half of 2019, they were
the core ‘incidents’(1) via which tens of thousands of people stood up to the government. Through these protests,
the movement’s participants came together and learned to cooperate, developed support networks, shared common experiences,
and forged bonds and a sense of unity. Yet the costs born by protesters who took to the streets were grave. Thousands
suffered damage to their health or lost their freedoms or even their lives. Nonetheless, large scale protests showed the
public the movement’s vitality, and by so doing, drew in more people, and opened up other fronts for piling pressure on
the government. When taking to the streets became more difficult in 2020, those other fronts - logistics and support
networks, support for those arrested, the union front, the international front and the legislative front – took up the slack.

During the Anti-extradition Movement the government’s official narrative was that the protesters were riotous thugs that
were destroying Hong Kong. They didn’t mention that the administration and the police had devoted enormous resources to
violently crack down on protesters. Part I of this chapter outlines the administration’s violent crackdowns, their alleged
use of torture, sexual violence, mass arrests, and their complicity in extrajudicial violence. Part II introduces the
street tactics and types of demonstrations that formed against the backdrop of these crackdowns, including large scale
peaceful protests, clashes, attempts to block roads and shut down the city, extrajudicial forms of retaliatory punishment
(私了 si liu: lit. - settling affairs privately), destruction of property (裝修 zong sau: lit.,‘refurbishment’), and
flash mob demonstrations.

1, TRANSLATOR’S NOTE: The use of word “incident” is symbolic - the word used in the Chinese book is 事件 (shijian in Mandarin,
si gin in Cantonese), which is the same word mainland Chinese (and some other) sources use to refer to the Tiananmen massacre
(in China it is called the ‘May 4 Tiananmen incident’ 四五天安门事件).

4.1 The Government’s Violent Crackdown

During the anti-extradition protests government propoganda justified the authorities’ violent crackdowns on demonstrators
by accusing the latter of being riotous thugs. The government and the police devoted enormous resources to applying force
against demonstrators and prosecuting them in order to deter people from protesting. Police used lethal force to crack down
on demonstrators, sent letters of objection to clamp down on the people’s freedom to assemble and protest, and arrested
and prosecuted a large number of protesters. At the same time, the police and the Department of Justice sat by and did
nothing as supporters of the government assaulted protesters. They even shielded the perpetrators, or let them off lightly.
However, not only did the authorities’ violence fail to quell disorder, but it also had the opposite effect - it damaged
the legitimacy of the government and the police, and prompted demonstrators to adopt more radical measures.

4.1.1 The Use of Force, Torture and Sexual Violence

During the Umbrella Movement Hong Kong police fired 87 tear gas canisters. By contrast, during the Anti-extradition Movement
police fired 15,732 gas canisters, 9,991 rubber bullets, 1,996 bean bag rounds, 1,830 sponge grenades, and 19 live rounds.
Excluding the use of water cannons, vehicles and sound bombs, this made for a combined total of nearly 30,000 rounds.

In reality, even faced with protesters using the ‘highest levels of force’ (i.e., throwing miscellaneous objects, bricks, and
bottles containing lit flammable materials), fully armoured police did not face serious threats to their safety. Yet police used
a large volume of potentially lethal sponge grenades, rubber bullets and bean bag rounds against protesters, causing
permanent injuries. Some ambulance crews and reporters suffered permanent loss of vision, and many protesters who were arrested
were allegedly beaten after they were subdued. More than 100 of those charged were unable to attend their first hearings due
to injuries. Those injuries included brain injuries, swelling, bruising, temporary loss of hearing or vision, broken bones
and shattered bones.(1) According to public hospital records, over the duration of the movement in 2019, at least 2,633 people
who participated in mass events sought treatment for injuries at emergency wards (since police often arrested injured protesters
when they were in hospital, many sought treatment through non-official medical networks - as such, the official figure is the
tip of the iceberg).

Aside from the sites of protests, many cases of protesters being subjected to torture and sexual violence allegedly took place
in the dark corners of police stations’ holding cells, and when suspects were subjected to body searches. A report compiled by
Amnesty International collected witness statements from arrested persons, lawyers and medical personnel. These exposed alleged
acts of retaliatory violence including brutal beatings, abuse, and shining pen lasers into arrested persons’ eyes. Over the
duration of the movement there were many allegations of demonstrators being asked to submit to strip searches,(2) being slapped
on their breasts and private parts, being sexually assaulted, or being subjected to sexual violence.(3) By mid 2020, the
Hong Kong Police Brutality Database 香港警察濫權實錄資料庫, which was built by grassroots activists, collected and categorised
about 1,700 alleged cases of police misconduct.

1, (Anti-extradition movement: at least 100 defendants didn’t attend their first hearing due to injuries; 20 that complained
of having been beaten by police showed obvious signs of injury; 8 suffered broken bones) 反送中運動 至少百名被告因傷缺席首次聆訊20
人投訴遭警毆有明顯 傷勢8 人被打至骨折, Stand News 立場新聞, 13 March 2020.
2, (A female demonstrator was arrested and subjected to a full body strip search; the police station room in which it occurred
had a window; lawyer: since the charge was unrelated to drugs this defies logic) 被捕女示威者遭全裸搜身 警署房間有窗 律師: 控罪不涉
毒品,做法不合邏輯, Citizen News 眾新聞, 23 August 2019.
3, (A female Chinese University of Hong Kong student takes off her facemask, and, in tears, claimed students were subjected to
sexual violence and sexual assault at the San Uk Lang (Holding Centre))中大女生除口罩 哭訴被捕學生新屋嶺遭警察 性暴力、性侵,
Citizen News, 11 October 2019.


On 29 September 2019, Veby Mega Indah, an Indonesian reporter, suffered loss of vision after being struck in the eye by a
rubber bullet while covering the Global Anti-Totalitarianism Protest. Veby petitioned the High Court to demand that police
provide information on the identity of the police officer involved. However, this request faced many impediments.
Image source: Stand News.

During the anti-extradition protests, the vast majority of those who were victims of police brutality were unable to pursue
justice. Not only did the complaints system have structural deficiencies, but protesters felt pressured to refrain from speaking
up, and citizens feared that pursuing cases of police brutality could lead to them being arrested. Under the current system,
citizens can only submit complaints through the Complaints Against Police Office unit (CAPO), whose reports are examined by
the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC). Since CAPO is attached to the police force, and since the IPCC has no power
to investigate and punish offenders, it is questionable whether lodging a complaint is worth the effort.(1) Over the last 10
years only 10% of complaints have been substantiated, and these have typically resulted in little more than reprimands or
warnings, with only one resulting in a criminal prosecution. When citizens made civil claims or applied for a judicial review,
not only were they required to spend an enormous amount of time and money, but since police officers had not worn their
identification numbers and had covered their faces to obscure their identity, collecting pertinent evidence and determining
liability was extremely difficult. Over the duration of the Anti-extradition Movement, not a single police officer was
subjected to criminal proceedings for acts of violence perpetrated during the protests.(2)

1, (When Hong Kongers face cruel or inhumane treatment) 當市民面對酷刑或不人道待遇…, Amnesty International, 10 Dec 2019.
2, (Last year the IPCC was required to prepare reports on nearly 1500 complaints; only 57 allegations were substantiated.
No complaints about beatings, fabricating evidence or threats were upheld) 監警會去年接近監警會去年接近1500宗須匯報投訴
僅 57 項指控獲證實 無毆打、捏造證據及恐嚇投訴成立, Stand News, 9 Dec 2019.


11 August 2019, Police at Causeway Bay allegedly pinned a protester’s head to the ground and beat him. They also allegedly
sprayed pepper spray on his wounds. In addition to suffering intense pain, the protester lost two of his front teeth, and his
nose and an eyelid needed stitches. At Tai Koo station on that same day, police fired pepper spray rounds at close range
at protesters trying to vacate the area. Image: Apple Daily.



31 August 2019, police stormed a platform at the Tai Koo station and allegedly beat several citizens. In an interview with
Ming Pao, Ken, one of the students allegedly beaten during the so-called ‘831 incident,’ said that he was wearing a
white shirt but not wearing a facemask nor carrying weapons or other paraphernalia when roughly 10 police allegedly struck him
from behind with batons. Ken was subsequently sent to hospital for treatment and was hospitalised for 9 days. Tests revealed
that Ken’s left shoulder suffered contusions, his left thigh, knee and calf were severely bruised, and his scalp was punctured
in three places, requiring 14 stitches. Kan said: “Washing the wound was extremely painful. I’ll never forget it. I don’t
know why someone so young had to suffer like this.”


11 November 2019, a demonstrator blocking a road in Sai Wan Ho was shot at close range by a live round fired by traffic police.
At one stage he was in critical condition, and as a result part of the right lobe of his liver and his entire right kidney
were amputated. Image: Cupid News.

4.1.2 Mass Arrests and Prosecutions

The Public Order Ordinance (POO), a bad law left over from the colonial era, places significant limits on the freedom to assemble
and protest. Under this law, protests featuring more than a certain number of people must have their time and route submitted
in advance, and can only proceed after a letter of ‘no objection’ has been issued by the Commissioner of Police. If protests go
ahead without this letter, participating parties can be imprisoned for up to 5 years for the crime of “taking part in an
unlawful assembly.” In addition to this, the legal definition of the crime of ‘rioting’ is extremely vague, and carries a
hefty penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment. According to POO section 19, a ‘riot’ is when a gathering constitutes an
“unlawful assembly” and its participants “breach the peace.” Put another way, if a demonstrator participating in an
‘unlawfully assembly’ “breaches the peace,” the judge could charge anyone present for ‘rioting’ based on his or her consideration
of the level of collective violence, as opposed to only considering the violence perpetrated by the individual being charged.

During the anti-extradition protests, police often sent out letters of objection to demonstrators, and kettled (i.e., encircled
and arrested) large crowds. From June 2019 to November 2019, the number of monthly arrests shot up from 73 to 2,899 people. Prior
to this, the post-colonial period’s Special Administration Region’s government was less strict in its application of this colonial
era law, and few were convicted. In 5,529 public gatherings between 2003 and 2014, only 16 protesters were prosecuted. But in
the anti-extradition protests up until 30 June 2020, police arrested 9,216 people, of which 1,972 were prosecuted. Those
arrested faced tortuously long judicial proceedings, curfews and potential sentences, all of which deterred demonstrators
from continuing to participate in the movement.

Overall, charges against anti-extradition protesters were far more severe than those leveled against participants of the
Umbrella Movement. The longest sentence metered out during the umbrella movement was that of the so-called ‘three occupiers
of Central’ (中環三子 - Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man and Chiu Yiu-ming), who were imprisoned for 16 months. During the
anti-extradition protests, 653 people faced up to 10 years in jail for ‘rioting,’ which was the most common charge. One person
who participated in the June 12 protest, Sin Ka-ho, was the first person to be sentenced for ‘rioting’ after he received 6
years (reduced to 4 years due to a guilty plea) for throwing a helmet, traffic cone and umbrellas at the police line.(1)

1, (Each of the Department of Justice’s sentencing reviews succeeded (in altering the original sentence) – 9 cases changed
from non-custodial to custodial sentences; 18 anti-extradition cases had sentences lengthened; almost half those sentenced
were minors) 律政司刑期覆核暫全勝 9人變監禁 反修例案18人加刑 近半未成年, Ming Pao, 24 March 2021.


(Text in image: Main title: Overview of the Types of Offenses and Numbers Charged during the Umbrella Movement and the Anti-extradition
Movement White text in red circle: Number of people arrested
Red text white background: Offence and maximum penalty
Left (black font): Title: Umbrella movement; Middle: 1003 people; Main text: Most of those arrested were charged with
assaulting police (2 years), obstructing officers performing their duties (2 years), and unlawful assembly (5 years).
Right: Title: Anti-extradition Movement; Middle: 9,216 people; Main text: The top three offences for which most of those
arrested were charged were rioting (10 years), possession of offensive weapons (3 years) and unlawfull assembly (5 years).
By June 2020 a total of 653 people had been charged with rioting.)


Data source: (Mass prosecutions: The arrest and trials of Hong Kongers) 大檢控,香港人所經歷的拘捕和審判, Initium Media,
24 July 2020.

(Text in image:
Main title:
How many anti-extradition activists were charged for each offence and what are the maximum penalties?
Small black font on top right: Data source: a combination of police records and media reports. Data regarding Hong Kong’s
National Security Law was updated on July 15. The rest was updated on June 30.
Bar graph (top to bottom):
Number of people incarcerated across Hong Kong… 7023
Number arrested during the Anti-extradition Movement… Total: 9216 Number prosecuted: 1972.
Rioting (10 years)… 653
Possession of offensive weapon (3 years)… 304
Unlawful assembly (5 years)… 294
Assault/attempted assault on a police officer (2 years)… 140
Criminal damage (10 years)… 74
Arson (life).. 67)


(Text in image:
Main title:
Age distribution of arrested anti-extradition protesters
Bracketed text (top right): (9 June 2019 to 31 May 2020)
Centre: Total number arrested: 8986
21-30 years old: 3,855 etc
Bottom right text: As of 31 May 2020)

In addition, peaceful demonstrators also received harsh sentences. Before 2019, those prosecuted for unauthorised
assemblies were mainly fined. But on 18 August 2019, nine pan-democrats who joined a peaceful protest were found
guilty of participating in an unlawful assembly and were sentenced to between 8 and 18 months imprisonment.(1) The
Department of Justice reviewed a number of sentences which they considered to be too lenient, and every single review
that was subjected to adjudication in 2020 resulted in harsher sentences.(2)

1, (June 12 Admiralty protest – 21 year old lifeguard pleads guilty, becomes the first anti-extradition protester to
confess to participating in a riot) 6.12 金鐘衝突 - 21 歲救生員認罪 首名反修例示威者承認參與暴動, Stand News, 4 May, 2020.
2, Special feature: In the courtroom of the 18 August case: Each defendent gray haired, an astonishingly harsh sentence
(特寫)818 案庭內:一個個白髮蒼蒼的被告 一次令人錯愕的嚴厲判刑〉,Stand News, 16 April 2021.

4.1.3. Extrajudicial Violence

Not only did the administration directly crack down on the anti-extradition protests - there were also many instances
in which supporters of the administration attacked demonstrators, those joining Lennon Walls, volunteers manning stands,
those applying for demonstration permits, and District Council candidates. On July 21, people dressed in white shirts attacked
both demonstrators and other citizens indiscriminately in Yuen Long, a town located in the New Territories. Groups
of pro-establishment loyalists who were Triad members also brandished weapons in shows of force on several occassions at
Hong Kong Island’s North Point, and at the New Territories’ Chuen Wan district. On August 7, knife wielding men wearing blue
shirts attacked demonstrators. And in Tseung Kwan O on August 20, a volunteer for the Lennon Wall suffered a puncture wound
from a knife attack and was rushed to hospital.^1^ On October 19, a young person handing out fliers at a Lennon Wall event
was seriously injured after he suffered a knife wound to his abdomen.(2)

In several assaults targeting demonstrators, the police, judges and the Department of Justice shielded the alleged perpetrators
(i.e., the Department of Justice intervened to have charges against a driver who hit a demonstrator in Sham Shui Po withdrawn,
and a judge praised the person who attacked people participating in the Lennon Wall as someone of “exemplary character”^3^). Lam
Cheuk Ting, who made a report to the police after he was attacked by men in white shirts during the “July 21” 2019 Yuen Long
attack, was arrested a year later for participating in a riot. Cases where pro-establishment loyalists who allegedly attacked
people were not punished, and those who were allegedly attacked by them fell victim to political oppression, were key factors
that inspired protesters to meter out retaliatory punishment (si liu).


21 July 2019, more than 100 people wearing white shirts attacked citizens indiscriminately at Yuen Long district. In total 45
people were injured. Among the injured was the journalist Ryan Lau. He suffered bruising on many parts of his body, and wounds
on his scalp and hands needed stitches. Image source: AFP.

1, (Lennon Wall knife attack judgement: Female reporter assaulted with a steak knife at least 5 times; suffered PTSD and applied
to move) 連儂牆斬人案判詞-女記者被牛肉刀襲擊至少 5 次患創傷壓力症申搬遷, Citizen News, 27 April 2020.
2, (19 year old youth handing out fliers in Tai Po in critical condition after being stabbed in the abdomen, resulting in
protrusion of intestines; 22 year old mainlander arrested) 19 歲青年大埔派遊行傳單遇襲腹部中刀見腸情況嚴重 22 歲內地刀手被捕,
Stand News, 19 October 2019.
3, (Lennon Wall knife attack: Judge praises culprit’s “exemplary character”; Ministry of Justice decides not to apply for a
review of the sentence) 連儂牆斬人-法官讚兇徒「情操高尚」律政司決定不申請覆核刑期, Stand News, 18 May 2020.

4.2 Street Protests

At the beginning of the anti-extradition movement, peaceful demonstrations demanding the withdrawal of the Extradition Law
Amendment Bill featured up to 1 or 2 million participants. Nonetheless, the government refused to make concessions and clamped
down on the protests. On 1 July 2019, protesters stormed the Legislative Council building and occupied the central
legislative chamber. This was a prologue of more radical forms of resistance. Between July and November, the police and
government’s crackdowns on the demonstrations not only failed to subdue them, but also served to radicalise them. Large
scale demonstrations subsequently came to be complemented by, and alternate with, more radical protest actions. Protesters
continued to stage large scale peaceful demonstrations, while some used guerrilla tactics to block roads, engage in clashes,
damage property, and meter out retaliatory punishments - all of which were responses to the authorities’ violent crackdowns,
and put pressure back on the authorities by increasing the government’s costs and causing economic damage. Since
anti-extradition protesters generally supported more radical measures, peaceful demonstrators known as woleifei
(和理非 = “peaceful, rational and non-violent” protestors), and more pugnacious protesters, called jungmou
(勇武 = the ‘valiant’), each did things their own way, but still had each other’s backs.

The anti-extradition protests were marked by tactics known as “blooming everywhere” (pindei hoifaa 遍地開花) and
“be water.”(1) “Blooming everywhere” meant decentralising protest actions. In July 2019, protests fanned out from the
political and economic centre of Hong Kong island to Kowloon and the New Territories, and into local communities. “Be water”
meant not sticking to set patterns, remaining flexible, adapting to changes, and constantly shifting. When the police objected
to a protest application, or temporarily shut down public transport services, citizens used the web to organise
‘guerrilla’ demonstrations without prior notice and without following a set route. When major roads were blocked and
transportation was paralysed, they organised flash demonstrations. Towards the end of 2019, following harsh crackdowns on protests
in universities, it became difficult to hold large scale demonstrations and street clashes. Flash demonstrations in the
suburbs subsequently became the most prominent form of political protest in the public domain. Up until mid 2020,
public demonstrations declined due to the substantial reduction in the number of attendees, which occurred against the backdrop
of the COVID-19 pandemic and government crackdowns.

1, This comes from Bruce Lee’s famous line: “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. Put water into a cup.
Becomes the cup. Put water into a teapot. Becomes the teapot. Water can flow or creep or drip or crash. Be water my friend.”

Taking to the streets was not only a form of public demonstration. It was also a key training ground for the masses to learn
to engage in resistance. When police brutality followed “blooming everywhere” protests into the suburbs, malls and near
peoples’ homes, more and more citizens witnessed police engaging in unwarrented violence and arbitrary arrest (for example,
a teargas canister hit a local resident when police were attempting to disperse a crowd,^1^ and a local resident having a
stroll was charged by riot police for participating in an unlawful assembly2). The movement also reached more people and spawned
new networks. Demonstrators in different districts subsequently formed their own groups (for instance, local Lennon Walls,
street-side booths, information channels for people scouting protest sites). As the people involved had met each other, the
networks, resources and experiences they accumulated helped the movement grow roots in the local community. We will now look
at some of the different types of protest actions that were to take place on the streets.

1, (October 20 protest: Police fired tear gas canisters on a residential building in Mong Kok. Community organisers: a
family was forced to hastily leave) 10.20 遊行 - 警射催淚彈上旺角民居社區幹事:街坊全家要即走, HK01 香港01, 24 October 2019.
2, (A family of 3 having a stroll after a meal were accused of illegal assembly. The mother angrily retorted: “Are you going
to shoot me and my two kids?”) 一家三口飯後散步被警告非法集結母激動:係咪要射死我射死我哋三母子, Apple Daily, 6 October 2019.

4.2.1 Large Scale Peaceful Protests

While the Anti Extradition Movement contained ‘radicalised’ elements, large scale peaceful demonstrations still played a key
role. Radical actions were dangerous and fast paced, so their bar for participation was relatively high. Large scale
peaceful protests, on the other hand, gave a larger number of citizens the opportunity to express their views.

In the early stages of the movement, organisations such as the Civil Movement Rights Front conducted large scale protests
after applying for them in advance and receiving letters of no objection. This created a safe platform for the city’s residents
to have their voices heard. If the scale of a protest is to be seen as a guage of public sentiment, then the enormous turnout
could be seen to reflect the substantial scale of public support for the movement. In the last half of 2019, several
demonstrations featured over one million participants.^1^ This figure was also surpassed in the 1 January 2020 demonstration,
which was titled “Don’t forget your promise, stand with us” (moumong singnok, binggin tonghaang 毋忘承諾,並肩同行).

During these protests the throng of people overwhelmed ferries and subway stations, and this forced those assembled at Victoria
Park to wait several hours before setting off. Since the demonstrations had been granted letters of no objection,
demonstrators waited at the park for quite a while. They brought along self-made banners, leaflets and supplies, and - when
not shouting out slogans - chatted with fellow participants. From August 2019, large scale protests featuring tens of thousands
of participants were being convened across many districts.

After this, police began to regularly ‘object’ to protest proposals. This resulted in organisers having no other choice but
to cancel demonstrations. However, since the movement was without core leaders, and since even the demonstrations that were
allowed resulted in police clampdowns and mass arrests, many residents gradually gave up being constrained to seeking ‘letters
of no objection,’ and took to the streets in ad-hoc ‘unlawful protests.’ For example, on 27 July, tens of thousands of
residents occupied the streets and demonstrated in Yuen Long on the pretexts of ‘outings,’ and participating in a ‘memorial
service’ for Li Peng (i.e., the CCP official that sent armed forces to suppress the Tiananmen protests of 1989). On August 18,
1.7 million residents also took to the streets on Hong Kong island. Due to the police clampdown, there was a reduction in the
number of large scale peaceful protests that had been applied for in advance, and an increase in ‘guerrilla-type’ protests
in different suburbs whose attendance numbers are difficult to assess.

1, This is based on the movement’s own attendance estimates. Police estimates were considerable lower - however,
the credibility of the latter has been widely questioned.

4.2.2 Clashes

Police use of force during the anti-extradition movement, which involved the heavy use of gas canisters and
potentially lethal ordinance, was far greater than it was during the Umbrella Movement. Yet some of the protesters felt that
the only way to carry the movement forward was to use more ‘radical’ forms of resistance - otherwise, it was feared, the
movement might end up tapering off and fail like the umbrella movement. One result of this is that protesters often used the
guerrilla tactic of blocking off roads after protests. Donning crude forms of protective equipment, protesters faced off against
police after erecting defensive perimeters. They extinguished tear gas canisters to prolong their actions in the area, and at
times threw miscellaneous objects, fragments of bricks taken from the sidewalk, and petrol bombs. They only withdrew, or moved
to another location, when police moved in to arrest them.

Even though these protesters were more willing to strike first than was the case in earlier protests, asymmetries
between protesters and police in terms of the level of force at their disposal remained extremely large. Police wore
flame resistant uniforms, impenetrable body armour, and carried a large volume of deadly weapons. Attacks from protesters
(throwing bricks, miscellaneous objects and bottles containing flammable materials over a long distance) were incapable of harming
the police, and would merely serve to delay police offensives. In reality, up against well equipped police and the
prosecutorial powers of the judiciary, these more radical protesters were subjected to draconian crackdowns, and were unable to
sway the administration. Despite this, the resolve they showed had a rallying effect and spurred on more people to join the movement.

These more radical measures were supported by demonstrators. The woleifei protesters protected the rear of the front line
until all of the protesters left together. When traffic controls and body searches became common, the woleifei distributed
and carried sensitive items to the protest site, and formed human chains to deliver things to the front line. When the
jungmou made ‘renovations,’ the woleifei often raised rows of umbrellas to block the view of CCTV cameras so that the former
could avoid being identified. This came to be called “raising your umbrella in the rain.” The thinking behind this was as
follows: the woleifei, whose role involved few risks, helped reapportion the risks by supporting the jungmou, and did so in the
hope that all participants would be able to leave safely.

4.2.3 ‘Guerrilla’ Tactics: Blocking Roads and Shutting Down the City

In August 2019 police escalated their clampdown by issuing a series of ‘letters of objection’ and shutting down
transport services prior to scheduled protests. This prompted demonstrators to begin developing more flexible ‘guerrilla’
tactics such as having no set route, and making impromptu relocations and retreats. Realising that the pressure public
demonstrations were bringing to bear on the government was limited, protesters often blocked roads after demonstrations. They
also explored ways to hit the economy and have an impact on public order through instigating a ‘non-cooperation movement.’

On August 5 Hong Kong netizens launched the August 5 General Strike and Simultaneous Demonstrations across Seven
Districts(1) 八五全港大三罷、遍地開花七區集會.(2) For the first time, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators assembled in
different districts simultaneously, surrounded police stations with flash mobs, and blocked major arterials, which paralysed
transport across some parts of the city. After this, responses to pertinent political developments tended to involve general
strikes, and, wherever protesters assembled, large scale occupations of roads, the erection of roadblocks, and standoffs with
police – all of which blocked citizens from going to work and stopped businesses from opening. For example, 11 August
saw guerrilla-style protests erupt across several districts. On October 4, protests and roadblocks also popped up
across several districts in response to the government announcing the implementation of the Prohibition on Face Covering
Regulation. During the police siege at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in November, a series of demonstrations and road blocks
popped up across a number of districts over several days. Demonstrators on multiple occasions also called upon the public to
storm the airport. This resulted in several flights being canceled, and caused substantial economic losses.

These guerrilla-style attempts to block roads and halt transport had a big impact on Hong Kong citizens’ daily lives. In
the past, public opinion was often against these sorts of actions. However, since many of those that took part in
the anti-extradition protest paid a heavy price as a result of crackdowns, even more demonstrators were willing to
accept inconveniences and losses so that the fight could continue. Among those who supported the movement, only 15%
disapproved of demonstrators paralysing the airport, and only 9% disapproved of them blocking the MTR (i.e., the subway system).

1, (5 August Hong Kong strike: transport paralysed, assemblies in 7 districts, many police stations surrounded, people in white
clothes appeared again in North Point). 八五香港罷工:交通癱瘓,七區集會,多個警署被圍,荃灣、北角再現白衣人, Initium Media, 5 August 2019.
2, TRANSLATORS NOTE: The Chinese title does not use the word ‘general strike’ but rather “三罷” or ‘three strikes/suspensions’,
which refers to 1. stopping work, 2. not attending school, and 3. closing markets and sites of commerce. An English language
poster distributed prior to the event called the demonstration the “August 5 1300 Simultaneous Assembly in 7 Districts,” and
referred to the general strike with the caption “05.08 CLOSED.”


5 August 2019: Demonstrators launch a general strike and erect roadblocks in a number of districts in Hong Kong island, Kowloon
and the New Territories. Image source: Now News.

4.2.4 Si liu and Zong sao


(CAPTIONS: dark blue title: “Who nurtured the griffin?” Light Blue: “Picture and text: Ah To”
Top-left panel: “Police-triad cooperation” / Top-right panel: “Favouritism in law enforcement”
Bottom-left panel: “Unjustifiable prosecutions”) (TRANSLATORS NOTE: ‘Griffin’ is a hononym for si liu)

After August 2019, two radical measures, si liu (retaliatory punishment, lit., “private settling of affairs”) and zungsao (damaging
property, lit., “renovating”), became common. Si liu referred to demonstrators using force against attackers. In the beginning of July,
a volunteer participating in a Lennon Wall was praised after being punched 13 times and not fighting back. However, after several protesters
were assaulted and seriously injured, and police connived in the attacks and even arrested the victims, demonstrators stopped appealing to
the authorities to intervene, and fought back in self defence - even attacking perpetrators in groups.

Zong sao or ‘renovating’ was a term used by demonstrators which means “damaging public infrastructure or pro-establishment shops.” The
movement’s first zong sao was the late August Tsuen Wan Mahjong Parlor Incident. Subsequent to this, moderate and large sized groups of
demonstrators damaged the shop fronts of stores that supported the police or were associated with pro-establishment attackers, as well as
mainland Chinese banks and bookstores. For example, during the peak of the protest movement in October and November, 72 stores belonging to
the retailer Bestmart 360, which has been accused of being associated with the ‘Fujian gang,’^1^ suffered varying degrees of damage. ATM’s
belonging to mainland Chinese banks were vandalised, and at one time one tenth of the city’s 3,000 ATM’s were not operational. In addition,
since the MTR cooperated with the police, cancelled services to help suppress the protests, and also helped the authorities dispatch police
resources and arrest demonstrators, protesters damaged subway station infrastructure by smashing ticket vending machines, graffitiing, and
setting things on fire.^2^ More than 90% of subway stations were damaged, and the cost of repairs reached hundreds of millions of Hong Kong
dollars. Other than serving as a form of extrajudicial punishment for those who were not sanctioned by the authorities, ‘refurbishments’
reflected the logic of laam caau (i.e., ‘mutual destruction,’ or actions that show a willingness to harm oneself in order to harm others)
– protesters destroyed infrastructure to paralyse businesses, and the city more generally, to increase the costs to the government, and the
scale of economic damage.

Si liu and zong sau were very controversial since they involved the use of force, and interrupted people’s lives. However, on the back
of many months of rising discontent against the government and anger at police misconduct, demonstrators and citizens felt, to a relatively
large degree, that these measures were understandable. Less than half of Hong Kong’s citizens disagreed with the use of si liu and zong sau,
and among supporters of the movement this number dropped to less than 30%. Nonetheless, there were numerous incidents where acts of si liu and
zong sau were disproportionate (i.e., a person who hurled abuse at protesters was doused with flammable liquids and set on fire,^3^ which some
demonstrators felt was taking things too far). Such incidents were the cause of substantial controversy in the movement, and prompted demonstrators
to come up with a set of guidelines so that everyone would be on the same page. An example was: “‘refurbish’ the ‘black’ (i.e., anti-demonstration
businesses associated with the Triads – Triads = ‘black societies’), ‘decorate’ the ‘red’ (paint or stick posters/slogans on mainland Chinese
owned or Chinese government owned businesses), help out the ‘yellow’ (support businesses that support the protest movement), boycott the ‘blue’
(i.e., pro-establishment stores/business).” Another set of guidelines were outlined in a post titled “Compromise between the jungmou and
woleifei: the rules of engagement are online.”

1, ‘Fujian gang’ refers to Hong Kong’s Fujian migrant associations, led by the Hong Kong Federation of Fujian Associations 香港福建社團聯會.
Between August and September 2019 people identifying themselves as the ‘Fujian gang’ attacked demonstrators at protest sites.
2, (The MRT became a frequent target during the Hong Kong protests: From an international ‘model’ to being conferred the title
‘the party’s subway’) 香港示威中屢成目標的港鐵:從國際「樣本」到被封「黨鐵」, BBC, 18 September 2019.
3, (A man arguing with a person at Ma On Shan was doused with a flammable liquid and set on fire, resulting in burns) 馬鞍山一男子與人爭吵被潑
液體點火致燒傷, NOW News, 11 November 2019.


Hong Kong’s rail system was one of the targets of protesters’ ‘renovations.’ Here protesters are setting fire to an entrance to a Causeway Bay
MTR station exit. Image source: Hong Kong Economic Journal.


(Graph) (Title): Percentage of Residents who Disapprove of Radical Protest Actions

Category	  			Violent clashes	 Propert damage  

		total			    48.4		          43	
		male			    46.1		          41.6
		female			    50.5		          44.2
		15-29			    25.0		          15.5
		30-39			    40.2		          34.5
		40-49			    56.5		          50,4
		50-59			    55.6		          48.0
		60+			        58.1		          57
Political leaning/affiliation		
		Localist			18.3		          7.4
		Pan-democracy	    34.3  		          27.4
		Pro-estab.	        96.3		          96.4
		Unaffiliated	    69.1		          66.2
Attitude towards the protest movement	 
		Support			    27.6		          21.1
		50/50			    70.1		          60.8
		Oppose			    96.1		          97.8	

Source: Centre for Communication and Public Opinion Survey, The Chinese University of Hong Kong,
‘Public Opinion Poll on the Hong Kong Anti-extradition Movement,’ May 2020

4.2.5 Flash Mob Demonstrations

From September 2019 protesters often staged ‘human chains/holding your hand,’ ‘sing with you’ and ‘lunch with you’ demonstrations in several districts’
mall atriums, housing complexes, schools, and near factories and large buildings. These demonstrations were relatively small in scale, peaceful, and
inclusive in the sense that they set a low bar for participation. After protesters in one district demonstrated by singing or lunching together in
malls, those in other districts copied them, resulting in demonstrations spawning across several districts. Since those participating in these
demonstrations were often locals, they could quickly form flash mobs wearing whatever they left home in. As such, these protesters blended together with
other citizens and local residents, making it more difficult for police to suppress the protests and arrest people. Human Chains

Inspired by the Baltic Way,^1^ in August 2019 anti-extradition protesters formed a human chain that connected three rail lines and spanned 44 kilometres.
The aim was to stage a peaceful demonstration which would attract global attention. After this, ‘human chain’ demonstrations frequently occurred in work
places, schools, and at local protests, become more geographically scattered, and morphed into something akin to a daily routine. In September medical staff
formed a human chain in a hospital to denounce the excessive use of force by police, which had impeded paramedics from treating injuries. Several middle
schools were the sites of human chains and school strikes^2^ that protested police brutality and reiterated the Anti-extradition Movement’s Five Demands.
Their turnouts, which included students and alumni, were substantial. On December 31 demonstrators in Tsim Sha Tsui formed a ‘New Year’s Way,’ repeating the
movement’s demands, and commemorating the 831 Prince Edward MTR station incident.

1, TRANSLATORS NOTE: Also known as the Chain of Freedom. This refers to the 1989 human chain that stretched across three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and
Lithuania), and that was intended to draw attention to Baltic campaigns for independence from the Soviet Union.
2, (Three months into the Anti-extradition Movement 170 middle schools across Hong Kong formed a human chain to express their demands) 反修例運動三個月
全港約170所中學學生築成人鏈表達訴求, Initium Media, 9 September 2019.


6 September 2019, 200 middle school students formed a sub-district human chain. Image source: In-Media. Sing with You

In early September 2019 a group of people sang a song composed by a protester titled ‘Wishing Hong Kong a return to its former glory’
(yuen wing gwong gwai Heung gong 願榮光歸香港) at the atrium of a mall in Sha Tin district, New Territories. After this, protesters sang in chorus,
yelled out slogans, and held up banners in major malls across different districts, and ‘sing with you’ demonstrations became widespread and frequent. Lunch with You

Beginning early October 2019, over 1000 demonstrators participated in a series of lunchtime flash mob demonstrations in Central to protest the fatal shooting of
a protester by police, and the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation. During October, workers participated in flash mob demonstrations in the business districts
of Kwai Fong, Lai Chi Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui and Kwun Tong. ‘Lunch with you’ demonstrations occurred in several districts during a general strike and non-cooperation
movement conducted from 11-15 November.

Further Readings

1, (Are mass prosecutions ‘governing Hong Kong according to the law’ or a judicial
catastrophe? An interview with barrister Margaret Ng) 大檢控是「依法治港」抑或司法災難?
專訪大律師吳靄儀 —— , Initium, 27 December 2019.
2, (Arbitrary arrests, baton attacks, 20 hour delay before being sent to hospital – what
happened to them after they were arrested?) 濫捕、棍打、延遲十二小時送院,被捕後他們經歷了什麼?
Initium, 5 November 2019.
3, Reports on police misconduct compiled by demonstrators
4, Ryan Lau 柳俊江(2020), (A night in Yuen Long: My recollections and everyone’s recollections)
元朗黑夜 我的記憶和眾人的記憶 – , Hong Kong Book Era.
5, (Exclusive interview: Three youths who committed arson – how did the woleifei become
‘fire wizards’? At the margins of violent resistance) 專訪-三個放火的少年 和理非怎樣變「火魔法師」?
武力邊緣上的抗爭, Stand News, 14 October 2019.
6, (Exclusive interview: Resistance is evolving, is civility in decline? The growth of
the Griffin and what comes after) 專題-抗爭進化、文明倒退? 「獅鳥」的長成及其後, Stand News,
28 September 2019.
7, Hong Kong Connection 鏗鏘集: (Complaint) 控訴(27 April 2020)(video).
8, HK Feature 誌: (May Chow Tsz-lok rest in peace) 願梓樂主懷安息 (21 December 2019) (video).
9, Citizen News: (Historical records of the siege at the Polytechnic University; those who
escaped express their guilt at “having left others behind”). 理大圍城歷史紀錄逃脫者愧疚剖白
「無法齊上齊落」 (8 December 2019) (video)
10, (BBC documentary on the 1st anniversary of the Hong Kong protests: The shifting mood of
protesters on the front line) BBC 香港示威 一週年紀錄片:前線示威者的心路歷程 (30 June 2020) (video).
11, (Stand News: The statistics of those charged with rioting: How old were they? What were their
vocations? When were they arrested?) 立場新聞:被控暴動罪的人數據統計:他們有多年輕?做什麼職業?
何時被捕? (13 June 2020) (video).

Chapter 5 - Support and Logistics Networks


Image source: Hong Kong Citizen News

During the Anti-extradition Movement, behind-the-scenes logistics networks supported actions on the streets. Due to a smear campaign,
logistics work and economic and material support were often seen as evidence that the movement was doing the bidding of a hidden paymaster.
In reality, while demonstrators were supported by many benefactors and volunteers, they were not part of organisations funded by so-called
‘foreign powers’ – they were backed by ordinary citizens who contributed their own time and money to the cause, and who did so on their own initiative.

These support and logistics networks kept abreast of changes in the political climate and the evolving needs of protesters. They kept
demonstrations going in the face of harsh government crackdowns. We will introduce five types of support networks: publications,
instant messaging platforms, logistics support, medical aid and emotional support, and assistance for arrested persons.

The publications team ‘decentralised’ the dissemination of information and mobilised the people. Since the Anti-extradition Movement was
without media spokespersons or leaders, demonstrators developed their own publications networks to distribute information, send out details
about protest routes, and mobilise demonstrators.

Instant messaging platforms helped people share up-to-the-minute information about volatile and shifting protest sites. In the last half of 2019,
demonstrators conducted several hundred protests of various kinds, and this required protesters to frequently exchange and coordinate large volumes
of information in order to keep assemblies away from police deployments, and to plan escape routes.

Logistics support refers to key backers of actions on the streets. As crackdowns harshened, protesters needed more logistics support, including
the provision of protective equipment and other material resources, economic support, safe havens, access to transport for leaving protest sites,
etc. To respond to the ever changing needs of demonstrators, protesters developed ‘large scale open source platforms’ and smaller ‘parental networks’
which collected and distributed resources and coordinated services. These networks meant that demonstrators facing crackdowns were not stranded and
without help.

During the movement a large number of demonstrators suffered injuries, emotional problems, and even arrest and prosecution. As a result,
those fighting the extradition bill organised medical aid and emotional support networks, as well as networks for assisting protesters
who were arrested. Over ten thousand protesters were arrested, and their needs changed as they went through the stages of being taken into custody,
attending court hearings and trials, serving sentences, and readjusting to life after they were released from prison. To address these needs,
a large number of people who opposed the extradition bill helped provide legal support, supported defendants in court as auditors, assisted those
in prison, and helped those released back into society find jobs. While by 2020 the streets became more quiet, dozens of protesters faced trials
and sentencings every day, and finding ways to support them became one of the major priorities of the movement.

During the Anti-extradition Movement, the time spent in actions on the streets was quite short. Amidst the surging and subsiding tides of large
scale protests, self-formed support organisations served as fixed nodes that allowed those that wanted to join in and play their part build
connections and establish networks. The presence of companions also encouraged those that discovered their ‘place’ in the movement
to keep up their participation. The trust and connections cultivated in these ‘blooming everywhere’ networks made them the sites of new fronts
as actions on the streets became unsustainable.

5.1. Publicity team: Informing and mobilising the masses

During the Anti-extradition Movement the government frequently held press conferences to hog the limelight in the mainstream media.
They also devoted a lot of resources to smearing demonstrators. Hong Kong’s mainstream media’s coverage of the protests was
lopsided. To push back against the views presented on television stations and print media, demonstrators countered government press
conferences with dozens of ‘people’s press conferences.’ Students and online media volunteers also conducted live interviews, and
reports at the scenes of protests which captured images of alleged instances of serious police misconduct. In addition to this, a
large number of those fighting the extradition bill joined in the production and dissemination of publicity materials, creating a
large, decentralised publicity network. In an ever-changing movement, these networks built consensus among opponents of the bill and
won over support from the community.

When protests first broke out, participants designed leaflets and manned street stands to spread the word on the pernicious
ramifications of the extradition bill, and mobilise large scale demonstrations. Beginning June 2019, protesters set up a Telegram
channel, and printed materials which were either posted on mosaic Lennon Walls, or distributed via street stands. Over the year-long duration
of the movement, participants gradually integrated and coordinated their efforts, and worked out ways to make the dissemination of
their messages more extensive and up-to-the-minute.

Generally speaking, while publicity networks didn’t all operate in the same way, they all featured two core parts – production and
dissemination. Production included checking information and designing texts and images. Dissemination included online dissemination,
printing, distributing, or posting on Lennon Walls. A Telegram (social networking platform) channel, where information was brought
together and organised, facilitated the sharing of resources, and was a platform that allowed production and distribution to operate
side by side. Anyone could submit content, and anyone could download and post content on Lennon Walls or distribute them from street
stands. This chapter looks at the behind-the-scenes work that went into the production and dissemination of information, as well as
the development and evolution of these publicity networks.


[Image text: Title: Schematic diagram of the Publicity Chain

Publicity production > Media platform > Production

Other publicity team -> Telegram Gung Hiu group Facebook publicity team
Other publicity team -> Reddit publicity team Twitter international front

Individual designer -> Stall Stall Stall Stall
Individual designer -> Stall Stall Stall Stall
Individual designer -> Stall Stall Stall Stall

Channel publicity production panel -> Lennon Wall L. Wall L. Wall L. Wall
Channel publicity production panel -> Lennon Wall L. Wall L. Wall L. Wall
Channel publicity production panel -> Lennon Wall L. Wall L. Wall L. Wall
Channel publicity production panel -> Lennon Wall L. Wall L. Wall L. Wall

5.1.1. Production

The ‘production’ of publicity materials marked the first step in the publicity chain. During the anti-extradition protests, new
media platforms accumulated vast volumes of accurate and up to date materials. These were compiled by a large number of anonymous
demonstrators who shared them with the public without claiming copyright. From June 2019, the Anti-extradition Promo Channel, on the
Telegraph social networking platform, uploaded more than 38,000 pictures and videos. While this channel’s administrator was both a
producer and publisher of content, almost 70% of its content was provided by other demonstrators. Many other publicity channels and
anonymously composed materials emerged over the course of the movement, and this kept individual channels and authors from
monopolising the movement’s voice.

Since there were so many content contributors, the style and themes of the movement’s publicity materials were extremely diverse.
They included striking drawings, posters pairing pictures with text, comics, illustrated news and commentaries. Since they were about
‘publicity’ there was little room for two-way conversations, and the materials used emotion, information and insight to quickly
mobilise people. Commonly seen themes were integrating information, mobilising the movement and building consensus. We will now
illustrate these with examples. Integrating information: What happened? How should we read information?

In the last half of 2019, protests, arrests and crackdowns occurred on an almost daily basis. At the same time, the government
frequently called press conferences to hog the limelight on mainstream media platforms and smear the demonstrations. As a result,
protesters struggled to keep track of all the pertinent news and information, and sift through it effectively in order to understand the
broader dynamics at play. Against the backdrop of this, ‘publicity networks’ continued to summarise milestones within the movement,
fact-check information and rebut the government’s claims, and work through vast swaths of information and produce more digestible
news wrap-ups. The themes they covered were diverse, including aggregating incidences of police misconduct, analying the electoral
system, and even providing briefings on the pandemic and anti-epidemic measures.

In reality, the publicity networks provided more than just information. They also reflected the interpretations, concerns and
perspectives of the protesters. The networks used ‘hyped up’ images and news that would resonate with people, and interpreted
information in a way that reflected a particular standpoint, hoping to subtly inject a critical stance on the government into the
public discourse.



Image source: Anti-extradition Promo Channel


Image source: Anti-extradition Promo Channel Mobilising people into action: What can we do? How do we do it?

Demonstrators know that “having a lot of people” is the key to energising a movement. Because of this, they always promote their
cause in order to mobilise people into action, and emphasise that each person’s participation can effect change. In the early
stages of the Anti-extradition Movement, people were primarily inspired by the frequent protests themselves. But aside from taking
to the streets, demonstrators sought to participate in other ways. Some distributed leaflets, served as scouts, drove ‘parent cars’
(i.e., cars which picked up protesters), patronised the yellow economic circle, or joined unions. Publicity teams broke down
complicated tasks into basic steps and showed people how to do them, which lowered the bar for participation, and allowed people
without any experience to master tasks quickly. For example, publicity teams would put together a collection of QR codes for each new
union to make it easier for demonstrators to find out about, and join, the specific union that represented their vocation.


TEXT/CAPTION: Large caption: Corrupt cops, give her back her eye!
Small caption: (left) Starting August 12, storm the airport with a million people
Small caption: (right) Five demands, not one less.


TEXT/CAPTION: Title: List of unions (No. 1)
Black letters, right: Five Demands
Black letters in yellow, left:
(top) Formally established
(bottom) In the pipeline


Title: Don’t know how to use Twitter?
Follow these instructions
Black letters/white background: Could you sacrifice 10 minutes of your time for Hong Kong, for your comrades?
Human rights legislation still hasn’t passed; the international front needs you!


Title: I know everyone has their problems
But if everyone goes the extra mile
Hong Kong might be able to change
Blue text:
Everybody has their apprehensions. But shouldn’t we all try to find ways to do a bit more? If everyone does a little bit more it might
become a lot more.

1, Strongly support the yellow economic circle
2, Post/share publicity materials
3, Create publicity materials (text/pictures)
4, Completely boycott pro-police/pro-Beijing businesses
5, Take part in events
6, Other fronts

Red text:
Actually, we are undermanned on every front. We really need everyone to do a little bit more, just a little bit would be great :( Build Consensus: Synchronise Protesters’ Demands, Gain Community Support

During the Anti-extradition Movement demonstrators didn’t have the time or space to discuss matters face to face. Because of this,
the movement’s publicity infrastructure became a key platform for managing disputes and building consensus. When the actions of more
radical demonstrators created controversy, they used this infrastructure to explain what motivated their actions and seek out
others’ understanding. As the movement evolved, protesters’ compiled publicity materials with updated demands and slogans, and
sychronised them with the movement’s direction.

Publicity work relied heavily on people taking the initiative to create and distribute materials. As such, slogans that were
disseminated on a large scale were those which expressed demands that met other demonstrators’ approval. For example, after the storming
of the legislature on July 1, slogans centred around the phrase “Five demands, not one less” were widely shared. As the protests continued
to heat up, the slogans in publicity materials changed from those encouraging Hong Kongers to “try their best,” to urging “resistance” and
“avengance.” The intended audience of publicity materials wasn’t only supporters of the movement – as the publicity content creator Small Potato
(熱血小薯) stated: “We want to break out of our bubble and rope in more support from members of the middle class who are moderate
pro-protesters, neutrals, and moderate anti-protesters.”


TEXT: “Save Lives Save Hong Kong”



Title (Orange letters): Siliu?
(Yellow letters orange background): How about saying ‘keep good people safe from violence’
1, Be clear about your target:
(left vertical text): Agitated blue silks (people against the protesters): √“Target”
(right vertical text): Triads: √“Target”
2, Rule 1: If others don’t hurt us don’t hurt them
(Speech bubble – written right to left): “Support the real villains! Yell and wail! Tear up publicity materials!”
→ How to respond: →
(Small horizontal black text): Observe or make fun of them
(Larger vertical text): Freedom (of speech) means that everyone has the right to express different political views.
2: Rule 2: If they strike first we have the right to fight back and defend ourselves.
→How to respond:→
Please reduce the guy on the left to this state within 10 minutes.
Just keep good people safe from violence – don’t kill anyone!
From now on change the way we say it – we should never use siliu indiscriminately!

5.1.2 Dissemination

No matter how good the content, publicity materials can’t have an impact unless they reach people. The deployment of various
‘media platforms’ during the Anti-extradition Movement made it a lot easier to distribute them. Not only were publicity materials
sent out through forums on the LIHKG website, several Telegram channels and - as was popular in the Umbrella Movement – dedicated
Facebook pages, but a lot of demonstrators also forwarded materials using Telegram groups and their personal social media accounts.
They even won over the internet by engaging with netizens from other countries.

Nonetheless, some Hong Kongers found it hard to accept information that can only be found on social media. Moreover, these platforms’
algorithms tended to keep this information confined to users of the same political persuasion. Because of this, real (non-virtual)
public spaces were the main battleground for disseminating publicity materials. ‘Blooming everywhere’ Lennon Walls and street stands
became the last leg of the publicity chain, and were used to spread information to different districts promptly and with versatility.

It is worth noting that the Lennon Walls and street stand networks that popped up to hand out publicity materials became,
surprisingly, key sites for connecting supporters of the movement. The volunteers in these networks were mainly people that
lived nearby. When they prepared walls and stalls they would get together and chat, play table tennis, celebrate festivals,
and set up bazaars. Locals who became well acquainted and gained each other’s trust through these activities were able to
look after and help each other when trouble broke out in their district. Lennon Walls

The original Lennon Wall was a wall at the Velkopřevorské náměstí in Prague, former Czechoslovakia (Czechia), and was a place where residents used
graffiti to express their dissatisfaction at their government.(1) During the Umbrella Movement of 2014, protesters stuck a banner on
a concrete wall at the ‘Occupy Admiralty’ site which said “Why are we taking a stand?”, and many residents responded by posting
sticky notes which expressed their views. This came to be known in Hong Kong as the ‘Original Lennon Wall,’ and the phenomena
subsequently spread to different ‘occupy’ sites.

In the Anti-extradition Movement, Lennon Walls “bloomed everywhere” alongside demonstrations. Protesters would record their anger
at the government, as well as the movement’s demands, on sticky notes, and place them on public spaces such as footbridges,
housing estates, public transport, and along arterial roads. As publicity material production matured, protesters found that Lennon Walls
were not only a place to bring together the voice of the streets – they could also be used as a bulletin board for assembling and
distributing up-to-the-minute information, a site for communicating protesters’ views to the public, and a tool for publicising
protest schedules. Within several months, protesters across many districts adapted Lennon Walls to the disparate geographies and
social characteristics of each locale. Some were massive, visually striking mural-style ‘Lennon underpasses.’ There were
also large, meticulously designed bulletin boards featuring thematic portrayals of current events, information divided into
categories, and appeals to action.


Map showing the location of Anti-extradition Movement Lennon Walls across Hong Kong (Source: Hong Kong Lennon Wall Map).

1, Czechs began scrawling graffiti and writing the lyrics of songs composed by John Lennon on this wall in 1980. The wall
subsequently became a place for expressing dissatisfaction towards the government.

When Lennon Walls became prevalent across Hong Kong, networks for repairing and updating them gradually formed in many districts, and
demonstrators started to use them to disseminate up-to-the-minute information. During the early phase of the movement, the risks
associated with working on Lennon Walls were fairly low, and demonstrators across many districts would organise Lennon Wall teams into shifts
to prepare the wall and promptly repair damaged publicity materials. However, when these volunteers suffered frequent attacks at the hands of
pro-establishment supporters, and some residents who posted materials were arrested on charges of criminal damage, instances of
protesters creating Lennon Walls in such an impromptu manner decreased.

As the risks of maintaining Lennon Walls increased, protesters formed small, fixed teams of volunteers to ‘do walls’ in short, sharp
bursts. The participants of these teams each played different roles, and due to the threat of attacks and arrest, work had to be completed
within only 10 minutes. Some members selected publicity materials, produced glue and stuck things on the wall. Some arrived in
advance to scan the terrain and spot surveillance cameras. Some acted as ‘bodyguards’ tasked with subduing attackers. What is interesting
is that different Lennon Wall publicity teams in the same district formed loose mutual-assistance networks, and when large Lennon
Walls were damaged, several groups would mobilise themselves and quickly repair them. Lennon Wall volunteers across different
districts also communicated with each other and shared new techniques and insights.

Independent Media Interview of a Yuen Long Lennon Wall Volunteer:

“‘Loud Guy’ (the name of the Facebook page of a person known by the alternative pseudonym Hou Dee,(1) who followed the protest
movement) recalled that the streets were pretty quiet at first. But when people saw the publicity groups persevering day and night,
they eventually come forward and took a look at what they were posting. In the end he saw what TVB News wasn’t reporting:(2) blue silks(3)
walking by, ripping up postings, and calling the volunteers ‘crazy.’ He [Loud Guy] tried to persuade people to
stop and take a look, and sure enough, some people stopped by. Some people supported protests but criticised them for being quite
violent. Twenty or thirty people would gather in a circle and discuss the methods used to fight [the extradition bill],
and each would say their piece, which gave everyone food for thought. Some protesters felt dispirited and searched through the
sticky notes for a source of comfort. He even saw an elder gentlemen stand there for ten whole minutes, carefully read the publicity
materials, and jot down notes.”(4)

1, The Chinese name of the Facebook page is 大聲哥哥 – literally ‘loud older brother.’ Hou Dee’s name often appears as 豪Dee.
2, TVB is short for Hong Kong’s Television Broadcasts Limited, which pro-democracy activists accuse of having a pro-establishment bias.
3, 藍絲. This refers to pro-establishment people who oppose pro-democracy advocates. In 2014 those participating in ‘occupy’
activities used yellow ribbons to identify their connection to the cause. Those opposing them wore blue ribbons – hence the name.
4, (Exclusive interview: Models of perseverence – eight months of heartbreak and rewards for the volunteers who worked on the Yuen
Long Lennon Wall) 專訪 - 做一個堅持的榜樣-元朗連儂牆手足八個月的辛酸與收穫, Independent Media, 20 March 2020.


Sha Tin New Town Plaza Lennon Wall: In July 2019 police stormed New Town Plaza after a protest and beat and arrested protesters.
After this, demonstrators posted publicity materials on the mall courtyard’s “Lennon pillar.” Since the risk of being attacked
inside the mall was low, residents who lived nearby left a notebook computer which broadcast a short video of alleged instances
of police misconduct, brought along speakers and played music, and gathered and discussed events. Image source: Stand News.


Kwai Fong Lennon Underpass: The “Lennon Underpass” near the Kwai Fong MRT station became famous for its large mural. Image source:
Studio Incendo.


Yuen Long Lennon Wall: On 21 July 2019 men dressed in white attacked residents indiscriminately at the Yuen Long West Rail Station.
Subsequent to this demonstrators erected a Lennon Wall nearby. The Yuen Long Lennon Wall divided information into categories, had a
clear layout, and was easy to read. It was commended for being a “textbook-style Lennon Wall.” Image source: Hong Kong In-media.


Tai Po Lennon Underpass: The Lennon Underpass near Tai Po Station is regarded to be the largest Lennon Wall in Hong Kong.
Image source: Stand Media. Street Stands

Street stands refers to temporary stalls set up in public spaces where people promote ideas by giving speeches and handing out fliers.
They had been frequently used by local political organisations for many years. During the Anti-extradition Movement, street
stands erected by ordinary members of the public “bloomed everywhere,” and were used by those fighting the legislation to get their
views across, and encourage more people to join in the fight. In addition to hosting speeches, stalls featuring video projections
were quite prevalent. To bring attention to the problem of police misconduct, some demonstrators made short clips featuring
compilations of alleged instances of police misconduct, and erected “Police brutality screening stands” in several districts.
Protesters also broadcast documentaries on the movement in many districts to catch the attention of locals.


29 August 2019: Screening of Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom under an overpass in Mei Foo.

The first wave of street stands emerged in May 2019. LIHKG users and middle school students used social media to form teams and set
up stalls for mobilising people to participate in the 9 June demonstration. Within half a month the number of stalls exploded and the
public’s interest in opposition to the extradition amendment rose dramatically.

Street Stand Volunteer:

“I set up a Hong Kong-wide Roving Street Stand to talk about opposing the extradition bill. After I announced the time I would be
setting up the street stand on Facebook, a few volunteers joined in. Many of those volunteers also brought a few volunteers with
them, and the group got bigger and bigger. After that, those that had worked a street stand before or who were a bit proactive
opened new street stands themselves… As we travelled around the street stand group grew exponentially.

Someone in the group only needs to start a street stand [and say] “I need fliers” and “Can anyone prepare supplies” and everyone in
the group would put up their hands. I had an experience of one street stand which was really over the top – everyone bought their own
flyers, so on the day we were giving out five or six different flyers. It felt like [the miracle of Christ giving everyone] five
loaves of bread and two fish. Different people had different ideas. Some brought LED writing boards, some brought sticky notes, some
promptly performed demon-exorcising rituals on the floor – the [street stands] were full of vitality.”

After this, large amounts of street stands would appear, and would appeal to residents to participate in demonstrations immediately
prior to calls going out for rallies or strikes. However, when police continuously ‘objected’ to protests, the use of stands to
mobilise people to participate in demonstrations reduced, and a growing number of street stands focused on district council
elections, recruiting members for new unions, conveying concerns about the Hong Kong Health Code proposal, and other matters.
Earlier, many residents had been able to organise screenings at street stands and interact with each other at them for long periods
of time. However, after attacks on street stand volunteers increased, volunteers at street stands needed to rely more on guards and
‘self defence teams’ to maintain their safety.

In the last half of 2020 police occassionally obstructed street stands on the grounds that they violated COVID prevention laws
that prohibited group gatherings. District Council representatives and unions continued to set up stands despite the clampdown.
But these stands were no longer ‘blooming everywhere’ to the same extent, while those supporting the government were extremely active.


“Housewives opposing the extradition bill” street stand. Image source: Stand News.


2019 Chinese University of Hong Kong anti-extradition street stand. Image source: CUHK Anti-ELAB Group.


2019 Middle School Student Anti-extradition Interest Group street stand. Image source: Hong Kong Citizen News.


2019 Anti-extradition street stand. Image source: Fixing HK.

5.2 Instant Messaging: Sharing Information about Activities

Instant messaging platforms were the site of one of the earliest spontaneously formed networks of the movement. During the Umbrella
Movement, some people with experience in social movements collected first-hand information on the ‘occupation’ sites.
After verifying and collating this information, they posted it on a dedicated Facebook page. In the Anti-extradition Movement, people
rarely issued orders, demonstrations were spread across Hong Kong and kept shifting, and the situation on the
ground was extremely dynamic. Demonstrators had an urgent need for accurate information so they could weigh up risks before going
into action. The information on instant messaging platforms became a crucial source for helping demonstrators plan their
movements. For example, protesters would learn about the transport situation from social media channels before choosing which
means of transport and which route they will take. And during protests, they would use the channels to get information on
clashes at the protest’s perimeters and police deployments in the area to evaluate when they should leave and what route they should take.

In the Surround the Legislature 包圍立法會 protest in June 2019, information wasn’t circulating on site, which prompted demonstrators
to set up an instant messaging platform in order to promptly collect, verify, sort through and then publish information.
To collect information, they didn’t only rely on live media reports, but also drew upon a network of ‘scouts’(1) who reported back on
unfolding events. Most messaging platforms had established networks of scouts in order to make sure information is accurate. However,
as the scope of protests kept expanding, ordinary people become an important source, and through ‘outsourcing to the public’,
demonstrators were able to obtain a broader range of up-to-the minute information on protest sites. Publicity materials on
messaging platforms taught people a standardised format for reporting on the situation at protest sites. The platform’s on duty
account administrator paid attention to media reports and breaking news from netizens and would do his/her best to collate, verify
and publish information within a short timeframe.

1, “Scouts” originally referred to the ‘footsoldiers’ of the movement that were responsible for alerting others when police were
about to charge. Later it was used to refer to messengers who relayed information about what they observed at protest sites.


A diagram made by demonstators to help scouts differentiate different types of police vehicles



(Translation: # Central
0913: four uniformed police and one in casual clothes are questioning two youths at the intersection of Queen’s Road Central
and Queen Victoria Street)


(Translation: #Diamong Hill
0919: a man seems to have jumped the gate and was taken into the conductor’s office by rail staff)

A diagram made by demonstators to help scouts differentiate different types of police vehicles (top-left). Instructions
on a messaging platform on how to report on police positions using a standardised format (top right). The bottom shows the
final message update on the Telegram channel Image source: Scott Scout Channel.

As demonstrations ‘bloomed everywhere,’ several protests were occuring in different places on the same day. The pan-Hong Kong
messaging platforms were no longer able to handle the vast amounts of information they were recieving. As a result, localised
messaging platforms started to appear. These made it easier for demonstrators to focus on what was happening in their district. As
the speed of police advances increased, it was hard for demonstrators who weren’t familiar with an area’s geography and environment
to write in a way that captured the overall situation on the ground within a short period of time. Some protesters set up the
Real Time Map ( 實時地圖), which identified sites of police deployments and police use of force, and thus allowed protesters to
plan escape routes after just a short glance. Since migrants, domestic workers and foreigners had difficulty accessing information,
demonstrators also set up an English instant messaging platform. Real Time Map Founder Chi Yau:

During the 12 June Hong Kong Protest, one of Chi Yau’s students was in a group that was trapped between tear gas cannisters at
Citic Tower. Having nowhere to go, the protesters panicked and rushed into the building’s two glass doors, and came close to
crushing each other in a stampede. On July 14, Chi Yao, who was out of town at the time, saw a live broadcast which showed that
his familiar Sha Tin had all of a sudden turned into a smoke covered war zone. He saw police kettling and arresting people in a mall,
and witnessed demonstrators dashing about frantically and not knowing where to go. Seeing that noone was helping these people,
Chi Yao decided to create a real time map to help participants in the movement feel less unsafe, and to give everyone access
to information that can help them determine for themselves which route they should take.(1)

The situation on the ground as compiled on the Real Time Map: yellow represents the protesters; purple marks police
deployments. The map also marks the positions of water cannon trucks and armoured vehicles as well as the number of police and
police vehicles. Image source: Real Time Map.

1, (Pseudonyms, normal people, ‘local forces’: the messaging platforms of the leaderless movement) 匿名、素人、內部勢力:「無大台」
運動中 的即時資訊台, Initium Media, 25 September 2019.