'Sea of black' Hong Kong protesters demand leader step down
The massive rally saw some protesters carry white carnation flowers, while others held banners saying, “Do not shoot, we are HongKonger,” as they sought to avoid a repeat of the violence that rocked the financial center on Wednesday when police fired rubber bullets and tear gas.
The protesters, including young families as well as the elderly, formed a sea of black along roads, walkways and train stations across Hong Kong’s financial center to vent their frustration and anger at Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam.
Loud cheers rang out when activists called through loud hailers for Lam to step down and “step down” echoed through the streets. Protesters also chanted “pursue the black police”, angry at what they say was an overreaction by police that left more than 70 people injured in Wednesday’s violent protest.
Beijing-backed Lam on Saturday indefinitely delayed the extradition bill that could send people to mainland China to face trial, expressing “deep sorrow and regret” although she stopped short of apologizing.
The about-face was one of the most significant political turnarounds by the Hong Kong government since Britain returned the territory to China in 1997, and it threw into question Lam’s ability to continue to lead the city.
“Carrie Lam refused to apologize yesterday. It’s unacceptable,” said 16-year-old Catherine Cheung. “She’s a terrible leader who is full of lies ... I think she’s only delaying the bill now to trick us into calming down.”
Her classmate, Cindy Yip, said: “That’s why we’re still demanding the bill be scrapped. We don’t trust her anymore. She has to quit.”
Critics say the planned extradition law could threaten Hong Kong’s rule of law and its international reputation as an Asian financial hub. Some Hong Kong tycoons have already started moving personal wealth offshore.
Activist investor David Webb, in a newsletter on Sunday, said if Lam was a stock he would recommend shorting her with a target price of zero.
“Call it the Carrie trade. She has irrevocably lost the public’s trust,” Webb said.
“Her minders in Beijing, while expressing public support for now, have clearly lined her up for the chop by distancing themselves from the proposal in recent days.”