The crowd included protestors from Hong Kong, across the world and particularly South Korea. Several Korean activists jumped into the harbour and attempted to swim over to the venue hosting the WTO talks. Police stopped those involved before they could reach the Exhibition Centre, 3 of the swimmers were taken to a nearby fire station.
The vast majority of protestors remained peaceful throughout – shouting slogans, dancing, playing instruments and listening to speakers. A group of Korean activists then set alight to an effigy of a coffin – a common practice in Korean demonstrations - it was promptly doused by riot police and pulled over to their side. Some pushing and shoving began as a small number of activists tried to break through the police line to reach the Exhibition Centre. Police responded with pepper spray, injuring 9 people including Hong Kong’s best-known activist, and now politician, Leung Kwok-hung (or ‘Long Hair’). Well-known local protestor Matthew Pearce was also present, dressed as Superman.
As Hong Kong’s two major TV news outfits went live to air, a protestor shouted at the camera that 99% of protestors are peaceful, that they should “cover real news” and film where most protestors are (rather than against the dramatic backdrop of riot police)., adding that their journalism was lazy and scare-mongering. He was removed with excessive force by employees from both ATV and TVB.
As most people returned home, the Korean demonstrators sat down in front of the front line of police and demanded that their friends were returned to them.
With the Hong Kong media creating a climate of fear, reporting rumours of mass gas mask purchasing and alleged stolen uniforms, protestors from Korea were also demonised and ear-marked as potentially violent. The police and media bought the demonstration to its ‘inevitable’ dramatic Hollywood-esque ending by over-reacting with pepper spray and focusing on the small pockets of disruption respectively.
Prominent law professor and globalization critic Jane Kelsey wrote, “The Hong Kong government is mustering all its propaganda skills to create a climate of fear as the meeting approaches, to justify cracking down on any dissent and keep the substantive issues off the front pages."
Contrary to expectations, a peaceful parade kicked off the events on Sunday December, 11th attended by approximately 4,000 protesters.