Monday, August 19, 2019

Stay Strong Hong Kong, New York Stands with Hong Kong! Power to the People Rally

New York stands with Hong Kong!!! — at Chinatown, Manhattan.

New York Stands with Hong Kong, Power to the People Rally
Photo and caption  by NY4HK. Thank you everyone for coming to the rally today. We have more than 700 people, together we can win. FREEDOM HONG KONG!!! 🇭🇰

Jay and Ben stand with Hong Kong! — Chinatown, Manhattan.

Laurie told me about a New York solidarity rally for Hong Kong on Sunday.
Back in New York for a few days, she’d plugged me into the movement in Hong Kong.
She’d been part of it for weeks in Hong Kong.   I joined for a few days of actions, subway blockades, unpermitted rallies, clashes with cops. 
Watching the Hong Kongers march, defy teargas, and state controls was one of the most profound experiences of my life.  With everything to lose, they used every voice they had to speak out.

And the whole world is watching.
All the while, police have shot protests in close range,
Beaten and arrested those speaking out,
Turned a blind eye to the Triad who’d beaten 45 protesters in July.
Launched teargas at civilians in the MTA stations.
And shot at protesters within one meter inside the stations.

In  New York, we planned to show our support for them.
NY4HK posted the rationale for the action on facebook:

“Dear brothers & sisters,
We have decided to change the scheduled picnic to a rally. Details are as follows:
Time: 3:30pm-5:30pm
Starting point: Confucius Plaza, Chinatown
Finishing point: Manhattan Bridge Small Park

We will gather in front of the Confucius statue on the square in front of Confucius Plaza. There will be short talks by guests, among which are Hong Kong Leg,Co members Alvin Yeung and Dennis Kwok.  After the short talks, we will walk on the west side of Manhattan Bridge to Small Park. We will have group discussions and interviews at Small Park. The walk will take at least 30 minutes, please feel free to attend either or both portions of the rally.”

Friends from all of my activist worlds joined us. 
Tim Lunceford and Jay Walker of Rise and Resist had walked with me to the rally. 

At the rally, Laurie carried a poster declaring:
“Ideas don’t die.”
She introduced  me to
A scientist, he’d come public with news that HIV positive blood was included in the general  blood supply, tainting it. 
They were only let out of jail for an hour a day.
But his story was common.
He spoke out and was  punished  for it.
As I told Sarah Schulman, ACT UP’s zap outside the Chinese consulate, followed by his release from jail, was perhaps my favorite moment in the ACT UP.

His story is one of the reasons why Hong Kongers are so vigilant about their five demands:

A complete withdrawal of the Extradition Bill from the legislative process.
An independent commission of inquiry into police brutality and use of force during protests.
Release and exoneration of arrested protesters.
A thorough exoneration of arrested protesters.
A thorough investigation of powers by the police.
Implementation of universal suffrage for Legislative Council and Chief Executive elections.

Dr Wan  was jailed for speaking out.
Under the extradition  bill, others could face a similar fate,
in jail without recourse.

“They just throw away the key,” said AlanTimothy Lunceford-Stevens, of ACT UP and Rise and Resist, at the rally. 
At Confucius Plaza, people carried signs exclaiming:
“Free Hong Kong,
HK police = Mob Violence
Stand Up to Tyranny.”
“Thank you Hong Kong”
“Free Hong Kong!”
“Love Not Hate”
“Be Water”

A young woman told me about a Lennon Wall she and others planned to put up at Union Square on August 25th.

Activists were wearing sanitary masks to conceal their identity and  protect themselves from teargas.

Across the street, Beijing loyalists were on hand, waving Chinese flags condemning  the action and our support for  democracy in Hong Kong.

Before the rally, we heard about the pro Beijing counter-demonstration.
As we met in Brooklyn, the counter demonstration arrived chanting.
“… certain pro-China individuals / groups are planning to disrupt our rally tomorrow. NY4HK has reported such threats to NYPD, and the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau has assured us they will conduct a thorough investigation and trace all individuals / groups making such threats. NYPD will also send extra manpower to the venue to ensure the safety of all participants.
As always, NY4HK has already obtained a permit for the rally from the 5th precinct, and we will have legal counsel at the rally as observers…Hong Kong New Yorkers are not afraid….”

“They are using their right to free speech to condemn  the Hong Kongers using theirs,” I said  to Laurie.

“Not unusual.”

“What do they want, another Tiananmen Square?” I asked a reporter, recalling the thousands of people were killed when tanks rolled into the square in June of 1989, stifling the Democracy Movement in China for a generation.

Watching people my age killed for a moment of awakening for me.
A first step to becoming an activist myself.

Thirty years later, fear is widespread that China will do the same thing in Hong Kong.

And that is why we were all out there, to call for the world to support Hong Kong.
To let the world know we stand by Hong Kong.

“There is a Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy  Act for the House and Senate to act on,” noted one activist, passing out flyers calling for politicians to support a draft in support of Hong Kong’s human rights and democracy.

“I feel so angry at them,” noted a woman who moved here from Hong Kong almost two decades ago as we walked across the Manhattan Bridge, behind a banner declaring: “No To Extradition  Bill”

Arriving in Brooklyn, the pro China rally had followed us to counter demonstrate.

I walked  up to them and asked what they wanted, mentioning Tiananmen Square.

Don’t mention Tiananmen, noted one man.

Another said he saw no reason not to mention it.

The  crowd became more  agitated.

I kept mentioning democracy.

And they screamed back.

“Come stand right here!”  one jeered at me.

“You’re not from China,” screamed a women.

“I am from Brooklyn and I can speak out,” I replied, walking  away, the police separated two groups.

It was clear they were ready to agitate and then condemn outside agitators.
After the really, NY4HK posted a note thanking everyone for coming.

Thank you everyone for coming to the rally today. We have more than 700 people, together we can win. FREEDOM HONG KONG!!! 


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