Epoch Times Photographer Reflects on Conflicts He’s Been Covering in Hong Kong

October 18, 2014 Updated: October 26, 2014

HONG KONG–Epoch Times photographer Benjamin Chasteen has been documenting the Umbrella Movement through his camera lens, and the recent spate of Hong Kong police action has inspired him to collect his thoughts in prose.

Here is Ben’s take on the police clearing of Lung Wo Road on Oct. 16:

After pro-democracy protesters successfully shutdown Lung Wo Road (one of the major roadways in Hong Kong) on the evening of Oct. 14, the Hong Kong police came at them in a striking altercation that left some injured and some in hospital.

The police beat protesters with batons, punched and kicked them, and used pepper spray.

Early in the morning of Oct. 16, out of anger over how the police handled the situation, protesters once again shut down the roadway. They stood in front of cars, and even lay down in the middle of the road, forcing cars to stop.

The police pushed back the protesters and as they did the protesters started to surrounded a few policemen, holding their hands up while they did it. Very soon a few of the policemen were caught up in the middle.

It was a chaotic situation for everyone. The police pushed protesters up against a wall; protesters yelled and cursed at police;  and the media in the middle of it all, tried to get their shots and video.

Some of us climbed a wall that was only about 4 feet wide with a drop on the other side 5 stories high.  These past two days have been a life changing experience as I have never covered a situation this intense.

As more and more media people jumped up and crowded this little space, I personally started to get concerned that someone would fall. Soon after a Western man came up and laid down at the edge, holding on, and telling people to stand back.

All of a sudden I saw umbrellas going up and pepper spray flying everywhere. One of the photographers on the ground got hit in the face, as well as a protester directly below me. I gave him my water bottle as others tried to help him.

The police’s action got the protesters to rally together even more. The umbrellas came out again and there was a long stand off between them and the police.

Then almost abruptly, things quietened down, almost becoming still.

In the background of all the chaos, cars were driving by. Occasionally, the drivers would roll down the windows to either yell at the protesters or yell at the police.

Whenever the drivers honked in accord with what was happening, the protesters would all start to cheer and holler.

As the night dragged on, the number of protesters dwindled and fatigue started to kick in. They all began sitting down.

The police, however, were still standing over them, also exhausted from the night but ready to take action if needed.

One thing I get from all of this is how selfish one man could be. It seems that a good and upright leader would recognize how his citizens are unhappy with him and volunteer to step down so as to bring his country peace and happiness.

Instead, Chief Executive CY Leung is unwilling to give up his death-grip on power, and has even got the Hong Kong police, who used to be the stalwart guardians of citizens’ rights and protectors of the innocent, to obey and perpetuate these recent episodes of injustice.

Hong Kongers love their country and care for one another. Even a protester told me today that he cares for the police and wishes they would stop because they are all from the same nation. There is a bond here with Hong Kongers that I have never seen or experienced anywhere else. They love their country and love their freedom.

Sadly, because of CY Leung’s selfishness, that bond and freedom is starting to break. It is sad that a man would destroy his country by allowing the people to fight each other just so that, at the end of the day, he can still have his job.

If Leung occupied any lower position in society, wouldn’t he be arrested?

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.