Hong Kong young activists are no greenhorns when it comes to protests. As another huge rally is organized for Sunday, protesters’ strategies are getting more creative.

From hand signs to colorful post-it notes, these young activists have fine-tuned their tactics since the 2014 Occupy Central pro-democracy demonstrations.

The young activists have honed diverse ways of expression and tools to optimize efficiency, and to resist and protect from police violence to keep up the momentum, after more than a month-long of protests.


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Face masks, goggles, and helmets were worn to protect from pepper sprays. Others wore raincoats and carry different tools. If yellow umbrellas were the iconic symbol during the 2014 demonstrations, hardhats—yellow helmets—made a statement this year.

During the 2014 protests, activists created their own version of the Lennon Wall with post-it notes. This time, activists stuck the colorful post-it notes everywhere, erecting impromptu Lennon Walls all over the island territory, faster than authorities could rip them off. Some activists described these improvised post-it walls “flowers blossoming everywhere.”

Assistant Professor of Political Science at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University Samson Yuen said the Hong Kong people have taken their demands to the communities.

Political Science Assistant Professor Samson Yuen said the activists have taken their demands to the communities by using post-it notes Lennon Walls all over Hong Kong, July 19, 2019. (Screenshot/AP Video)

“It shows that the dissent, or grievances against the government, or opposition against the bill, has diffused into the communities,” said Yuen.

Referring the Lennon Walls in the communities, Yuen said, “There are more than 100 or 200 of such kind of small Lennon Walls around Hong Kong” and reiterating that “the dissents have diffused across Hong Kong.”

This strategy allowed the protesters’ messages to be more effectively and widely spread to the communities at large.

The vibrant post-it notes mini Lennon Walls all over Hong Kong is “a relatively softer way for people to spread their messages in the communities and also to make contact with groups that usually they would not see in there … on the streets in mass protests,” said Yuen.

The political science professor said that the post-it notes is a way to reach out to the more conservative group of Hong Kong people.

As the protests continue, activists are getting savvier in the way they communicate and organize events. They use the Hong Kong-based web forum LIHKG and Telegram, sending encrypted messaging app that serve as important organizing platforms.

Protesters formed Telegram groups to share information and devise strategies, as well as engaged in real-time planning. During a rally, they would alert each other on Telegram of the whereabouts of police officers and vote on whether and when to end a protest.

Protesters also used hand signs to communicate which supplies needed to be sent to the front lines. The index and middle fingers moving in cutting motion indicate “scissors” and arms circling the head mean “helmets.” These items would then be passed through a human chain to the front lines.

While the police set up barriers to contain demonstrators, the protesters built their own barricades with fences to protect themselves, block roads, or to prevent legislators from reaching and entering the Legislature building.


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