Hongkongers turn their morning commutes into protest marches with Walk to Work event across districts
Hundreds of residents across Hong Kong found a new way to rally against the government on Friday, ditching their regular early-morning commutes to join protest marches to work.
The first-ever Walk to Work event encouraged people to march together to their places of work from 8am, starting at eight MTR stations, including Causeway Bay, Tai Koo, Kowloon Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui.
About 50 office workers first gathered at Sogo in Causeway Bay at the appointed time, while others joined en route to Taikoo Place, about 4km away. Attendance at the 90-minute rally reached a peak of about 300 people.
“I think it’s quite creative to have a rally so early in the morning. It shows the government that it can’t easily silence us,” said a game developer surnamed Yung, who lives in Tuen Mun and works in Quarry Bay.
Hong Kong is in its 20th week of anti-government unrest, sparked by opposition to a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed fugitive transfers to jurisdictions the city does not have a formal exchange agreement with, including mainland China. The movement has grown to take aim at a wider list of grievances, including anger at the police’s response to earlier unrest.
Friday’s marchers, many wearing black masks with their suits, chanted slogans as they walked peacefully on pedestrian lanes, some grocers and newspaper vendors along the way cheering them on as they passed.
“We’ve shut up shop a few times because of protests and MTR closures. Our business is being hit but we’re in for the fight,” said a shopkeeper in Tin Hau who gave her name as Li.
Across the harbour, also from 8am, about 200 people wearing masks chanted slogans as they marched the 2km from Kowloon Bay MTR station to Kwun Tong.
A band of about 50 people marching in the opposite direction high-fived the other group as they passed.
Carol Ip, who is in her 30s and works in customer service in the trading industry, does not live nearby. But she said she got off her bus a stop early, near Ngau Tau Kok MTR station to join the walk to Kwun Tong. She said she wanted to keep the movement alive.
“It’s good that this walk to work is taking off in multiple districts. We need to remind citizens that the movement continues and we need to keep on fighting,” she said.
Most of the marchers dispersed at about 8.45am as they reached the APM mall near Kwun Tong MTR station.
Outside Tsim Sha Tsui station near Kowloon Mosque, dozens walked up Nathan Road towards Mong Kok station while about 70 walked from Mong Kok to Yau Ma Tei.
In the event group on messaging platform Telegram, which protesters use regularly, a user who joined the protest in Kwun Tong said he was very touched by the event
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“So many people were wearing masks today,” he said. “Along the way, people were cheering each other. Some cars honked to show their support.”