Note: The author of this piece is both a good friend and a former member of my youth group. You’ll be hearing more about him on this blog as soon as I have time to write. This has been posted here with his permission.
The first time I felt like I was part of something bigger was in 2003. I was eight years old and halfway through Pokemon Blue. I didn’t want to wear black - I thought it was embarrassing to wear black in public as it reminded me of pajamas. But everyone else was wearing black in the sweltering heat so I gave in. A bunch of activists bought me a burger, and I was instantly won over - it was obvious that we were the good guys. The march was long for my short little legs - from Victoria Park to the Government’s Central offices on top of that little hill with the old oak trees and British Neo-Classical buildings. There were professionals and the elderly and the working class. While it was mostly Chinese, there were Indians, Americans and British people walking aside us too. To say that it was packed would be an understatement. The city was brought to a standstill as it swarmed with black. Familiar roads and valleys of skyscrapers were clogged up with the sound of constant anger as the human sea streamed down. I can remember people I saw on TV standing on top of trucks with loud speakers. People sidelined the streets and stood in the pedestrian bridges, shocked at the sheer human spectacle. I shuffled with them, playing Pokemon Blue and looking up only half the time.
Half a million people marched that day. And I beat the Elite Four as we marched up Government Hill.
Article 23 (more or less the proposed Hong Kong version of the Patriot Act) was repealed quickly after that. And in 2005, our Pro-Beijing puppet of a leader stepped down. Numbers matter. People are predicting that there may be more than 500,000 people at today’s march (in 2003 they predicted 20,000). The stakes couldn’t be higher for Hong Kong, eleven years later. There’s far more at risk than there was in 2003. To my friends and family at the march - thank you for marching. Thank you for being invested in somewhere you love. Thank you for not being afraid to upset the status quo. I’m praying for a non-violent and successful July 1st protest from this side of the world.