Daily Bloom is the shortform blog of New Bloom, covering breaking news events as they occur in real-time.
Clashes between citizens and police in Mong Kok, Hong Kong. Police marched in earlier tonight in an attempt to disperse hawkers selling food in a food market, employing pepper spray, batons, and the use of riot police gear. What has provoked public outrage and the series of clashes with police which have continued into the early morning hours of Hong Kong is when police fired two warning shots into the sky, despite that such use of firearms should be illegal. In particular, a widely circulated image on the Internet has been when during the course of this, police actually aimed at the crowd with their weapons.
Police attempted to disperse hawkers at 10 PM, which agitated the crowd that had gathered to enjoy the food and led to tension with the police for the next two hours. Escalation of the event occurred between 12 AM and 2 AM, with shots being fired at approximately 2 AM. Demonstrators have rallied in support of hawkers, clashing with the police in doing so. The total number of demonstrators remains unclear but clearly number in the hundreds. Clashes have included direct confrontations with the police and the setting of fires on the street.
Hawkers serve street food and inexpensive food and have historically been an integral part of the Hong Kong urban fabric. Hawkers, however, face the challenges of that increasingly stringent legal regulations which are a threat to their ability to continue to maintain their business. The past years have seen police crackdowns on hawkers as a result. Tonight would be the most dramatic example.
Some have termed this series of events the “Fishball Revolution”. In particular, Umbrella Movement and post-Umbrella Movement Hong Kong activist groups such as Scholarism, Youngspiration have been responding to events. Localist groups such as Civic Passion are also on-site and are providing live updates. This would have been the first day of the Lunar New Year, that is, the first day of the year of the monkey.
In particular, the event has raised fears of increased police brutality in Hong Kong after the Umbrella Movement, which itself saw the use of severe police force against Hong Kong citizens. It would be that with the diminished autonomy of Hong Kong relative to China, the Hong Kong government is also willing to take increasing authoritarian and brutal measures against Hong Kong citizens. However, the event also raises issues of changes in Hong Kong’s urban fabric as a result of changes in laws and urban development.
Clashes with police continue into the early morning hours of Hong Kong. More demonstrators seem to be arriving as it nears dawn in Hong Kong.
Author: Brian Hioe
Photo Credit: 無綫新聞, Keyboard Frontline
Brian Hioe (丘琦欣) is an M.A. student at Columbia University, a freelance writer on politics and social activism, and an occasional translator. He is a former resident of Taipei, Taiwan.