In response to news that the 1 July protest in Hong Kong sparked violence, Lynn Lee, a film producer at Lianain Films, took to her Facebook on 3 July (Wednesday) to address the issue.
Although she agrees that protesters stormed into the Legislative Council of Hong Kong’s (Legco) building and vandalised the property by breaking windows, glass panel and metal barriers, she stressed that she felt safe among these protesters.
On 1 July, the anniversary of the British handover of Hong Kong to China, a group of protesters stormed into Legco and destroyed the Hong Kong emblem, ruined portraits of political leaders and destroyed furniture. However, there were also other protesters who demonstrated peacefully.
Since 9 June, Hong Kongers were seen protesting in the streets to oppose the proposed Extradition Bill that would allow residents to be extradited to mainland China.
In her post, Ms Lee said that she “never felt unsafe among these young protesters”, and suggested that her fellow journalists would agree with her.
“If anything, they go out their way to take care of each other, and of us. Several times on Monday, they held my camera as I tried to scramble over barriers. They repeatedly offered me goggles and water. They nagged me to stay safe. In the evening, as I sat, exhausted, outside Civic Square, a young man came up to me with a tray of hotdogs and told me to take one. Later, inside Legco, someone else passed around a bag of soft drinks,” she explained.
As such, she pointed out that these “young protesters are not the irrational mob” that Chief Executive Carrie Lam claimed. Ms Lee added that these protesters took this step of entering the building as they were angry at the government which refuses to listen to them.
Despite the anger, they were still very careful to destroy and vandalise only selected items. The film producer mentioned that the protesters put up signs to remind people to not touch antiques or steal from the cafeteria.
She also said that the 1 July protest is nothing in comparison with the 12 June event, in terms of violence.
On 12 June, a huge clash broke between the police and tens of thousands of protesters in Admiralty, a day before the third reading of the Extradition Bill. The protests saw police firing tear gas, rubber bullets, and rounds of beanbags at protesters outside Hong Kong’s legislature.
Following that, the government decided to postpone the bill for the time being.
Referring to the 12 June protest, Ms Lee said what the police did then was even worse than the 1 July incident. “Teargas, rubber bullets, bean bag rounds, pepper spray. The rest of us – journalists, church groups singing hymns, students who were nowhere near the Legco forecourt, academics on a hunger strike, medics manning first aid stations – were all seen as fair game. Police beat up protesters, fired at a crowd with literally nowhere to run, threw a teargas canister into a train station, caused a man’s heart to stop beating,” she wrote.
If that is not all, she also said she felt unsafe at the pro-police rally on Sunday (30 June). This is because supporters of the rally ended up attacking a lawmaker, harassed journalists and accused foreigners of being “CIA agents”, she noted,
“I was shoved and verbally abused by a woman and an older man who insisted on following me around with his phone. A photographer had to be escorted away by police after a crowd surrounded him and a man poured water on his camera.”
Although Ms Lee said she don’t know if she completely agrees with what the young protesters in Hong Kong did, she understands why they did it. This is because the government refuses to listen to them despite them asking politely, demonstrated peacefully and disobeyed civilly, she explained.
In fact, she noted that they knew the consequences of their action when they stormed into Legco. They knew that they will face long jail sentences if they were caught and were aware of the”threat of brutal police action”, she said.
“Some people are calling the break-in a miscalculation, a stupid misstep. Maybe so, maybe not. But it is more important to ask why it happened. And after that, to ask if vandalising a building is worse than attacking unarmed human beings. Because if it’s not, Carrie Lam should also be holding press conferences condemning the police and their supporters,” Ms Lee expressed.