Prominent Hong Kong student protest leader Joshua Wong talks to reporters outside a court in Hong Kong Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014.
HONG KONG — Joshua Wong, the 18-year-old who is the best-known of the students who are leading the protests in Hong Kong, was released on bail on Thursday. Wong was taken into custody amid clashes as police moved to clear one of the three protest sites that have blocked streets in the city for nearly two months now.
Wong shot to international fame (and onto the cover of Time magazine as the protests gathered steam in late September.
HK activist @joshuawong1013, now 8th in @TIME's Person of the Year poll, is in court today. @ElizabethKateri is therepic.twitter.com/5wP84bTtT4— Liam Fitzpatrick (@979KingsRoad) November 27, 2014
He, another student leader, 21-year-old Lester Shum, and a well-known activist lawmaker, Leung Kwok-Hung, were among more than 100 people arrested as police used pepper spray and batons on Wednesday to clear the streets in the neighborhood of Mongkok. The area has seen sporadic clashes and tense scenes over the weeks as opponents of the protests have voiced their anger at the disruption caused by the sit-in.
Joshua Wong tweet: "really missed family, gf, scholarism, and umbrella mvmt...dont be scared if u see me, i lost my glasses and look weird'— isabella steger (@stegersaurus) November 27, 2014
At a court hearing on Thursday Wong and Shum were banned from large parts of Mongkok as part of their bail conditions.
This means they won't be able to join any attempts to re-take the now-cleared protest site in Mongkok.
Behold the Joshua-Free Zone (JFZ) in MK, where Scholarism leader cannot tread. Govt afraid of his leadership powers.pic.twitter.com/tI0psodcIU— Webb-site (@webbhk) November 27, 2014
On Thursday afternoon, the area – centered on the intersection between Nathan Road and Argyle Street, busy, bustling areas bristling with shops – was eerily normal, with traffic roaring past at high speed.
“We, all of us, very happy,” said one middle-aged store assistant who did not want to be named, in broken English. The comment reflects a general sense of relief among local shops whose business has been hurt by the stand-off.
Uniformed police officers were stationed on street corners, but, during the day at least, there were few reminders of the protest camp that had squatted on the crossing for weeks.
— Bettina Wassener (@BWassener) November 27, 2014
Whether that will stay that way remains to be seen: there was much speculation that protesters may try to move back in overnight or in the coming days in support of their calls for more democracy in this city of 7.2 million people.
Heavy-handedness by the police here is rare compared to the United States, for example, but when it has happened, it has tended to back-fire, by rallying ordinary Hong Kongers around the protesters. Many Hong Kong people believe that it is time to end the protests (at least for now), but some may see the clearance of Mongkok as a reason to lend their support again.
At the same time, Yvonne Leung, another of the student leaders, said in an interview with a local radio station on Thursday that some of the students may now target government buildings as a way to step up action against the authorities.
Students may now target government buildings:http://t.co/yl0evDxgCh— Alice Woodhouse (@alicemuwu) November 27, 2014
Meanwhile at Admiralty, where the largest of the three protest areas is located outside government offices, the mood on Thursday was gloomy and more depressed than in the past.
The Admiralty site remains as large and calm as ever. Hundreds of tents are pitched in the middle of a multi-lane thoroughfare there. Several men were hard at work at a carpentry shop that has sprung up there to make desks and other items for the protesters. The police have made no moves, so far, to shift the protesters at this site, which has been peaceful, clean and well organised for most of the past two months.
But the mood is now apprehensive and the site looked bedraggled in the cold drizzle on Thursday.
How to decorate a Christmas tree at HK demo? You guessed it...http://t.co/7Zz0AqOj6s— Bettina Wassener (@BWassener) November 27, 2014
“It is hard to know what will happen. Maybe some protesters will move to Mongkok, or some from Mongkok will come here,” said Steven Cheng, a student who was helping to organise a supply store near the local subway station, and who has been there for most of the past two months.
“I think maybe we will still be here at Christmas,” he said, pointing to a nearby Christmas tree that is standing among the tents. “But maybe more people will now stay at home. It depends on whether things stay peaceful or not. So hard to know.”
Tags: HONG KONG, JOSHUA WONG, US & World, WORLD