By Ross Adkin and Helen Roxburgh
Bouquets of white flowers, written tributes and origami cranes piled up on Sunday outside a high-end Hong Kong shopping mall, where a young man plunged to his death protesting against a controversial extradition bill.
The man had hung a banner off the roof of Pacific Place, which overlooks the site of violent clashes this week between police and demonstrators angry at a proposed law that would allow people to be sent to mainland China.
A video circulating on social media shows the man falling from rooftop scaffolding as firefighters tried to grab him on Saturday evening.
They clutch at his clothes and he slips through their hands, missing a jump raft that had been inflated on the ground below.
He had unfurled a banner saying: “Entirely withdraw China extradition bill. We were not rioting. Release students and the injured.”
Thousands of mourners, mostly young people dressed in black, joined enormous queues along busy roads to leave tributes and pay their respects, some crying and bowing as they offered sticks of incense.
Next to a large pile of white flowers were hundreds of hand-written messages, lines of gifts laid out in offering including a bottle of single malt whiskey, and a white hard hat with the word “hero” written across it.
“The flowers are white for purity and so we can show our respect for the dead. When I get there, I will offer these and say a prayer for him,” said 18-year-old Travis.
“He walked a bloody road, I admire his energy, I admire his bravery,” said a man called Yung, aged 26.
Signs reading “Help Hong Kong. No extradition to China. RIP” have been posted at the site.
Protesters attending Sunday’s rally against the divisive bill were urged to bring a flower to leave as the march passes the site, and student groups announced plans for a candlelit vigil in the evening.
Flowers are piling up for a man who fell to his death on Saturday while protesting the extradition bill.
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) June 16, 2019
“I think it will give us more energy to come on the streets today,” said another mourner standing in long queues on the busy road, giving his name as Lau.
“Now it’s no longer as simple as someone being hurt or bleeding, it’s someone who lost their life because of this resistance,” said a man who gave his name as Hubert.
“No one wanted to see this happen. I’m sure (Hong Kong chief executive) Carrie Lam didn’t want to see this happen, but as Hong Kong’s highest official she should not avoid people’s appeals.”
The proposed extradition bill – and the fear that it threatens Hong Kong’s way of life, freedom of speech and rule of law – has provoked some of the worst politically-motivated violence in the city for decades, with nearly 80 protesters and police hurt and eleven people arrested.
Many of those queuing up to pay tribute said they were going on to join the planned rally through the city to show their opposition to the bill. Organisers said more than one million people turned out to last week’s event.
Police said the dead man, surnamed Leung, was 35 years old.
They said they are treating the incident as suicide, adding that a note was found at the scene.
If you are experiencing negative feelings, please call: The Samaritans 2896 0000 (24-hour, multilingual), Suicide Prevention Centre 2382 0000 or the Social Welfare Department 2343 2255. The Hong Kong Society of Counselling and Psychology provides a WhatsApp hotline in English and Chinese: 6218 1084. See also: HKFP’s comprehensive guide to mental health services in Hong Kong.