We interviewed a recent graduate who used the alias Berlin, and is working at an IT company.
What do you think about how the police have handled the protests in Hong Kong?
I was raised in Hong Kong. In our minds, police are meant to protect people and fight crime. Police used to symbolize justice and also it’s a professional career that people respected. But during this Umbrella Movement, they used force on innocent students and Hongkongers, even though the students only had umbrellas.
There’s no reason whatsoever to use force, but police used over 80 rubber bullets on people. We were really outraged by this; it totally changed the image of the Hong Kong police. There were seven police who beat a man in a dark corner and were filmed doing it. The man reported the incident, and now those seven officers are being charged.
In Mongkok on Nov. 26, they used violence to clear the site and more people were hurt and arrested. I was there that day. I witnessed how the police chased and beat students. They went crazy for a moment and hit people’s heads, not their bodies. So there were many people with blood on their faces. This threw a dark shadow in my heart. Many of my colleagues think the same thing.
What was the most memorable thing for you about the police’s actions during the protests?
I was watching television on Sept. 28 when I saw police use tear gas and shoot rubber bullets. Tears filled my eyes. I felt I couldn’t just sit there and that I had to do something to support the students. They sacrificed their time to seek freedom and voting rights. What’s wrong with that? Can’t the government come out to talk to the protesters rather than totally ignore them?
What happened really upset people. I feel that I’m one of them now and I should do something rather than stand by. This is not a student matter. It’s about all of us.
I have a good job, but after work, I volunteered at the protest site. I felt honored and really happy working with those kindhearted people. The was a positive feeling and a sense of responsibility around us. I did many things after work like bringing water to the site and helping with first aid.
There’s one thing that I’ll never never forget: On Nov. 27 I went to Mongkok after work to see what was happening, and I was in the crowd when we were confronted by a line of policemen with batons. They pushed us back, and later they started using pepper spray. The students behind told me to leave and they went to the front to face the pepper spray with umbrellas to protect themselves.
I was afraid and withdrew. I saw them facing the pepper spray and falling down, but they didn’t leave. They were so brave and courageous. If you were there, you would’ve been moved. Hong Kong’s future belongs to them.
What should the police have done differently, if anything?
It is police duty to protect people rather than crack down. Things can be solved in a peaceful way, and that’s the best way. Students are following rules of non-violence and generally won’t make trouble.
Why can’t the government communicate with the students? If the government really wanted to solve the problem, it wouldn’t be like this.
I’m rather disappointed by the Hong Kong government, but I see hope for Hong Kong in those promising young people.
You can read other stories in our series here: