In a blue-grey T-shirt, armed with nothing but a walking stick, an elderly woman with salt-and-pepper hair tried to single-handedly stop the police from attacking protesters in Yuen Long town, Hong Kong.
Furious at the riot police for attacking and injuring young protesters, the woman charged ahead, yelling – as a Facebook user translated – “Come and get me, I am not scared of you.”
The video of the “furious and fearless” granny’s shot on July 27 by Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong and this powerful image of her reprimanding the riot police shot by photojournalist Laurel Chor, have gone viral on the internet. Both are symbols of discontentment that has been ebbing through a city raising its voice against what it considers injustice and oppression.
While initially it was suggested that the elderly woman was defending the city’s youth, and asking the police to back off, some disagreement over whom she seems to be screaming at, eventually surfaced on the internet. Reports that she “told the protesters to leave, and said that she wouldn’t leave if they didn’t leave”, changed the perspective on the first idea.
According to netizens from Hong Kong, and those translating the woman’s pleas, she wasn’t taking sides – she simply wanted the protests to end, so that peace could prevail. “For these few moments both protesters and cops stopped...to protect her,” said one user on Twitter.
What started almost eight-weeks ago as an uprising over a Chinese bill that would allow the Xi Jinping government to extradite at will people it thought were trouble, has extended into weeks of protest over Chinese control on the autonomous territory and, now, protests against police brutality. This weekend’s protests were the most violent yet, with riot police firing tear gas pellets at demonstrators outside the Chinese liaison office for two days in a row. With an increasing number of injuries, the Hong Kong police have been labelled by many as “no worse than thugs”.
Demonstrations in Yuen Long and in downtown Hong Kong, this weekend, were fuelled by anger over the appearance, on the July 20-21 weekend, of gang men in white shirts who beat up protesters, including a pregnant woman, children and journalists, with wooden bats and iron rods.
While the Hong Kong government, led by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, dismissed suggestions that the men in white shirts were working with the police, social media users posted videos showing armed men in discussions with police and a pro-Beijing lawmaker, reported The Newsweek.
On Tuesday morning, hundreds of commuters remained stranded in Hong Kong’s busy MTR station as protesters reportedly disrupted train services to some stations. Activists blocked several trains, playing havoc with services and forcing hundreds of people to stream out of railway stations in search of alternative transport, reported Al Jazeera.