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Hong Kong protests: Some followers are fed up with violence and turn away

"I remember being incredulous and looking at my TV – how, what happened, why did they do that?" Said Jose. "Until that day, I understood what they were fighting for … I went back to my room and sat there staring at my wall for a long time."

Both sides accused the others of using excessive force and provoking police use of tear gas and gasoline bombs. Even Hong Kong itself is littered with turmoil, with destroyed and boarded-up shops and many entrances to subway stations being lit by protesters.

However, with no clear ending in sight, new divisions appear to be occurring in the city – alongside the hardcore protest frontliners and fierce opponents, there are now wavering supporters and moderates claiming to have been expelled from the violence.

When is it going too far?


9659002] Most people have a different answer to whether the riots have crossed the line. Protesters say they are not there yet because they did not kill or seriously injure anyone – if anything, they think the police are the ones who have gone too far.

Marcus, a 22-year-old protester, said he was in favor of "unnecessary violence" – but like many in the movement, he saw their actions as largely justified. For example, he felt that the violence at the airport had gone too far, but quickly pointed out that the mob had allegedly found evidence that the man was a covert policeman.

  Why the young demonstrators in Hong Kong feel like they are fleeing No more time for democracy

"If you are in such a place Let's not have that situation, "he said. "The proof was in his pocket."

Marcus' attitude reflects a seemingly common attitude of the movement and its sympathizers – a vague opposition to violence, but an instinct for leniency when it comes to demonstrators. "If we lose, we talk about an uprising," said Yara, a 22-year-old educational counselor. "But if we win, it will be a revolution, and the whole force will be final."

  Protesters fired a branch of the Bank of China in Hong Kong on October 13, 2019.

Several protesters who spoke with CNN returned to this image of a greater good. They fear that Hong Kong will lose its protected freedom of speech, press and assembly, and that the semi-autonomous city will eventually be swallowed up in mainland China.

In the face of such fate, real or perceived, the demonstrators say that little else seems important. Passages, missed flights, even educational disorders – for them all the victims of a movement that they believe could save the city.

Critics in the "silent majority"

Standing in sharp contrast are members of the self-proclaimed "silent majority" – people who resist the riots. They argue that the demonstrators are spreading chaos and fear in the city, destroying the economy and hurting not just their own cause, but all those caught in the crossfire.

It is unclear how many people are actually in the "silent majority" or if they really are a majority at all, but the group seems to be growing slowly – at least publicly. A protest-critical Facebook group has amassed more than 125,000 members in two months.

For comparison: One of the largest protest groups in the encrypted messaging app Telegram has about 240,000 members.

Many say that there can be no pardon for the violence and vandalism of the demonstrators. This effectively justifies violence against anyone who takes a different view and opens the door to dangerous polarization and censorship. Hong Kong's Self-titling Hong Kong's Self-titling called "Silent Majority" Held A Rally in Support of the Police on July 20, 2019. "class =" media__image "src =" http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191022055700- 01-hk-violence-large-169.jpg "/>

Even more bleak than the destruction itself is the" acceptance by the anti-government people, "said 26-year-old Patrick, who also advocated the protesters' right to peaceful protest Before the situation escalated.

He accused supporters on the margins of the statement of "no condemnation" – that is, they were either afraid to speak out against the movement, or they really believed that violence was right, and he said he knew not, which is worse.

"I think that's the scary part – not just the plot itself, but the reaction to the plot," he added.

Some demonstrators have apologized for the mistaken destruction politically neuter ale shops and for the mob attack at the airport. But many say it is not enough.
  Protesters hold an apology sign at Hong Kong International Airport on August 14, 2019.

"There is no attempt and error when it comes to violence," said Sarah, 41. She supported the peaceful mass marches in June, but withdrew her support when protesters began to destroy the subway "Attacking Police and Disclosing Private Information About Officials" Families Online.

Millie, a 39-year-old bank clerk, said disruption of traffic systems by demonstrators was not only an inconvenience, but a violation of the rights of ordinary people Daily Life.

"I take this person a bit of freedom to travel," she said. "Blocking people – that's their freedom to be self-reliant – that's the line for me."

Under this " silent majority "are they also talking about a simple confusion – if the demonstrators want democracy, why are they smashing ATMs? What has the destruction of the metro system with de m universal suffrage to do?

For the sake of demonstrators that the ATMs belong to Chinese banks, demonstrators believe that the subway operator is negotiating with the police CNN interviewees are alarming, counterproductive or, as Sarah put it, simply "stupid ".

"Even if the government cornered them, it does not legitimize the violence," she said. "The law is the law, you do not hurt people, you do not break government property."

The Divide of Privilege

A general refrain of the movement is that the critics do not understand the struggle because they are less personally involved in it. Perhaps they are wealthy, an expatriate, or dual citizenship, so they can leave Hong Kong at any time – their privilege prevents them from fully grasping the despair of the frontliners, demonstrators say.

Some of the "silent majority" acknowledge this. "I understand that I'm probably one of the privileged ones, none of that really affects me," said Sarah, who's from Hong Kong but lived in Canada before moving to the city. "I'm checking my privilege all the time, I understand they're stuck here … they do not have a second pass, this is their home."

Nevertheless, she has the feeling that her privilege does not provoke criticism wrong, just unwanted. In fact, that distance means it's easy for me to be objective, she said.

  Scattered goods in a ruined store during a protest in Hong Kong on October 20, 2019.

Others reject the concept that class or citizenship privileges have anything to do with the movement, downright.

"I do not buy this argument," Patrick said, pointing out that the movement is diverse and attracts followers of all ages, nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds. After all, she had not been born into wealth or privilege. She admits that protesters may face societal obstacles – priceless life, dwindling mobility – but "we were all there," she said.

In addition, Millie has only the citizenship of Hong Kong. This is also their home – and the protesters destroy them.

The support fluctuates as the protests drag on

Millie, Patrick and Sarah had all supported the protests at the beginning to various degrees. Sarah had been "absolutely against" the bill – but now that she has been withdrawn and the destruction has spread, "I (the protesters) do not support at all," she said.

Even some of those still within the movement are starting to retire. After the shock of the mob attack on the airport, Jose asked if she could continue to support him. Eventually, she decided that the answer was yes – but she said she had severed the connection a bit and was attacking less often than before.

  Hong Kong demonstrators ravaged a shop in Mongkok District on October 20, 2019.