People from all walks of life turned out Thursday for one final show of support for the democracy protesters.
When it was all over less than 13 hours later, they proclaimed the day as the best ever for Hong Kong.
It was an ironic twist to the 11-week-long street occupation by the democracy activists who earlier conceded that their movement had been a failure.
That’s because the central government in Beijing is still in control of Hong Kong’s democratic future and Hong Kong people still cannot freely choose their next leader.
So, what was beautiful about that day?
It was simply that the movement went out with a good feeling.
More than 10,000 camped out overnight Wednesday in the main Admiralty protest site hours before it was demolished by the police armed with a court injunction.
The turnout instantly revived a shrinking camp worn down by fatigue and frustration.
A tearful 82-year-old woman, surnamed Mak, said she felt she should not leave the students on their own.
Leaning on a walking stick, Mak said she traveled from her home in Tsuen Wan, 17 kilometers from Admiralty.
Mak had come full circle.
She was in the exact same spot when the police used tear gas and pepper spray in the early hours of the protests in late September.
“I’m not afraid of being arrested,” she said.
Mak was joined by students in uniform, office ladies with handbags, teachers, social workers and ordinary citizens who stood their ground to the end.
“I was impressed with the students. They slept in the streets and still did their homework and revisions,” Mak said.
A student from City University of Hong Kong, surnamed Leung, said she tried to persuade Mak to leave.
Instead, she said Mak told her to go home because if she got arrested, she would not be able to go to school.
“I have no homework and I have nothing to fear at my age,” she quoted Mak as saying.
A consultant at a headhunter, identified only as Vivian who described herself as a low-profile supporter, said she took the afternoon off Wednesday to be in the protest site.
Although she seldom discussed the protests with her colleagues, she had a parting shot. “Genuine universal suffrage is not just about our political stance or core values, it’s something that affects everyone,” Vivian said.
Vivian was later stopped by the police when she tried to rejoin the crowd after a trip to the rest room.
She told the officer she would rather be arrested. She was held and brought to a police station.
A group of elderly men — aged 76 to 90 – who had become well-known figures in the protest site stayed on.
The oldest, surnamed Wong, left his wheelchair to stand with the young protesters.
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