Thousands of usually apolitical financial professionals showed up in Hong Kong’s Chater Garden in pouring rain for a flash mob on Aug. 1, marking the latest round of support for the mass protests that have flooded city streets every weekend for months.
Holding umbrellas, office workers members from over 80 banks filled the garden in the city’s business district of Central that is surrounded by major international firms such as Goldman Sachs and HSBC Holdings, many of them still in office gear. Space became so packed that the crowd spilled over to the surrounding streets and the nearby metro station.
The organizers estimated roughly 4,300 attendees at the rally.
Toward the later part of the protest, the crowd began chanting slogans such as “Hongkongers Keep Going,” “Reclaim Hong Kong, Age of Revolution,” and “No Rioters, Only Tyranny.”
Flashlights from participant’s smartphones illuminated the scene.
Most of the participants maintained a low profile, with some wearing face masks.
A senior banking employee who has over two decades of experience in the financial sector told The Epoch Times that he appreciated the flash mob event as an opportunity to give his stance on the suspended but not withdrawn extradition bill, which would have provided the mainland a gateway to take anyone away to be prosecuted in communist China’s opaque court system.
The widespread fears among the Hong Kong populace over China’s growing intrusion into the city’s affairs have added to the government’s deepening crisis over recent months, with protests emerging across the city, big and small.
The banker added that many financial workers like him have expressed the same concerns. He did not give his name in fear of retaliation.
Be Their Backing
Participants also had a specific request: release detained protesters.
Over the weekend, thousands came out to join protests following the police’s rough handling of previous demonstrations and the slow police response to violent mob attacks on July 21 at the Yuen Long metro station.
Officers arrested dozens of protesters on July 28 after they defied police orders to converge on the streets of the Sai Wan district. 44 protesters were charged with rioting.
“[We]’ve got to protect our future freedom and the rule of law, so us financial workers also came out to voice our ideas,” another banker surnamed Ho told The Epoch Times.
“How the police treated the gangs versus us protesters was extremely unfair,” Ho said. “Because of these concerns, it’s all the more important that we come out … we need to be their [the detained protesters] backing, give them a voice.”
Rita, who didn’t give her last name, brought food for the attendees out of concern that they might not have had a chance to have dinner.
“We all came for the same reason: to support Hong Kong and reclaim the due freedom to Hongkongers,” she said.
Rita said she was at Yuen Long station on July 21 when triad-linked men wearing white shirts were seen beating up passengers returning from protests.
“Shame on the corrupt police. They need to really think about whether they are civil servants or civil enemies,”she said. “Hong Kong police are supposed to protect citizens. But instead, they collude with gangsters to hit citizens and arrest protesters.”
Civil Human Rights Front, the organizer behind the three marches in June attended by millions of Hongkongers, said more than 700 workers have now posted their identification cards through the Telegram messaging app to register their participation in an upcoming strike on Aug. 5.
The Hong Kong bureau of The Epoch Times contributed to this report.
A previous version of this article misstated facts regarding the 44 protesters charged for rioting. The Epoch Times regrets the error.