Mother, son duo protest in Hong Kong

Published 5:05 pm Wednesday, October 16, 2019

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This month, Andalusia High School junior Collin Ward and his mother Kim Ward traveled to Hong Kong to partake in the protests that are happening on the island.

The 2019 Hong Kong protests are an ongoing series of demonstrations in Hong Kong, which began with the aim to oppose the introduction of the Fugitive Offenders bill proposed by the Hong Kong government.

The Wards were in Hong Kong on Oct. 1, while China was celebrating 70 years of Communist Party rule and it was considered one of Hong Kong’s most “violent and chaotic days.”

“I went to Hong Kong with the sole purpose of wanting to protest,” Ward said. “I spoke to many people throughout the movement and saw many American and Liberty or Freedom flags throughout the protest. The whole protest was a very revolutionary movement. It was pretty much like a second American Revolution led by the Hong Kong people.”

Ward said the protests had a lot of youth participation.

“It was very youthful, with kids younger than me,” Ward said. “A 10 year old boy was actually shot. One of the nights that we were on the street, an 18 year old was shot in the chest.”

For the first two to three hours, Ward said the protest was peaceful.

“Government property was destroyed, but no acts of violence on the citizens or anyone else happened,” Ward said. “Then the riot police showed up. They would hoist different colored flags that tell the people what ‘level’ they were on. They would hold up a blue flag, which meant disperse, a black flag, which meant they would be shooting tear gas, and a red flag, which meant they would be shooting pellets. These protests have been going on for months now. So, they have developed strategies for them. They will go out there every weekend and stand for what they believe. When you see pictures of some of the protestors running away, they aren’t running in fear. At the protest that we went to their were more than 100,000 people. So, when they are running, they are creating space for the tear gas that way people can get away from it quicker.”

Ward said everyone that he talked to at the protest was nice to him.

“There were six major protests on that one day,” Ward said. “I pretty much just walked around, talked to people and took as many photographs as I could. Everyone wanted to put in their two cents about what was going on.”

After a while, Ward said the riot police showed back up to where he was holding a black flag.

“This was at a corner at a police station and the protesters were molotoving the police station,” Ward said. “If you don’t know what molotoving is, it’s like a homemade fire grenade. It’s a mixture of liquor and different things and you put a cloth in it, light it and then throw it. The glass breaks and then the liquid ignites. The police did not hesitate to use tear gas.”

Ward said his experience with tear gas was not the most fun part of his trip.

“You just hear a ‘thunk’ sound and I think that I about have PTSD from that sound,” Ward said. “You just hear the sound and then the tear gas lands at your feet. The tear gas canister just explodes out of nowhere. I had one land at my feet and explode and let’s just say it is like pepper spray on steroids. The tear gas just fills your nose, your mouth and your lungs. It basically burns everything and it disorients you.”

Ward said he has always followed politics and that these protests really caught his eye.

“Recently I have been too tired stressing over our politics, so I moved to international politics,” Ward said. “I had already planned on studying something along the lines of foreign economic development. So, going to Hong Kong really strengthened my wanting to study that. I really loved the trip and just going to see the people. They were all very passionate about everything. I mean, they were out there risking their life for it.”

Although this trip is done, Ward is still thinking about traveling to other countries to partake in protests.

“Ecuador has a pro-communist government at the moment,” Ward said. “And they have started their riots up much more majorly than they were before.”