Hundreds gathered in Tseung Kwan O on Sunday to pay tribute to Alex Chow Tsz-lok who died last November from head injuries he sustained near a police dispersal operation of a protest.

Tseung Kwan O

Photo: Kero/United Social Press.

The 22-year-old undergraduate student fell one storey in a car park at Sheung Tak Estate on November 4, near to where crowds had gathered following rumours that a police officer was getting married at the Crowne Plaza hotel.

Chan Yin-lam Alex Chow Tseung Kwan O

‘Dead at a young age, the truth has yet to be uncovered. Chow Tsz-lok 1997-2019. Chan Yin-lam 2004-2019.’ Photo: Kaiser/United Social Press.

A white banner reading “Murderer” had been draped over the front of the multi-storey car park, in reference to unsubstantiated claims that police were involved in Chow’s death.

Sheung Tak District Councillor Lee Ka-yui posted a statement on Facebook quoting Telegram channels as saying that at least 300 riot police officers had been deployed inside the car park and vicinity in preparation for the memorial.

Tseung Kwan O Alex Chow Tsz-lok

‘Murderer’ Photo: Jennifer Creery/HKFP.

At 7:30pm, crowds began to gather at the junction of Tong Ming Street and Tong Chun Street. They lined up to pay tribute to Chow by laying down white flowers and lit candles beside a Christian cross outside the car park.

They observed a one minute of silence 8:09pm – the time Chow succumbed to a cardiac arrest on November 8.

Chan Yin-lam Alex Chow Tseung Kwan O

‘If you give up, who will defend our city?’. Photo: Kaiser/United Social Press.

People have gathered monthly on the 8th to commemorate Chow as well as Chan Yin-lam, a 15-year-old girl whose body was found in the sea last September.

Posters containing messages in support of the pro-democracy movement were pasted over the car park’s walls outside.

Tseung Kwan O

Photo: Kero/United Social Press.

At 8:20pm, police raised a blue flag at the junction declaring the gathering to be an unlawful assembly. They asked the crowd to disperse and said that those who stayed would be considered to be participating in an unauthorised gathering.

Officers then sealed off sides of the pavements using cordon tape, with crowds standing around the periphery of the car park for over an hour before being allowed to trickle out.

Tseung Kwan O Alex Chow Tsz-lok

Photo: Kero/United Social Press.

“Soon we will begin to search participants of the unlawful assembly and evidence will be collected,” a police officer announced. A middle-aged woman in the crowd yelled back: “Have you given us enough time to disperse?”

A young man waving a black protest flag depicting a wilting bauhinia flower was pulled from the crowd by police and taken away at around 9:25pm.

Multiple passersby were stopped and searched around the area including at least two men wearing first-aid vests.

Police raised the blue warning flag at least four more times throughout the course of the evening.

Tseung Kwan O Alex Chow Tsz-lok first aider

Photo: Kero/United Social Press.

Amid the standoff, crowds chanted familiar protest slogans including “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times,” and “Five demands, not one less” – in reference to calls for an independent investigation into police behaviour, amnesty for arrested protesters, universal suffrage, retraction of the use of the term “riot” and withdrawal of a now-axed extradition bill.

Some also shouted expletives at the police and called them corrupt.

Tseung Kwan O

Photo: Kero/United Social Press.

A man who gave his first name as Charles told HKFP that he had gone out to buy food but was stopped by police: “I was heading home after buying groceries and then I got stuck here for over an hour,” he said. “Police stopped me, told me to look into their camera and say my full name and Hong Kong Identity Card (HKID) number aloud.”

“They also filmed the top of my HKID card. Before letting me go, they said the footage might be used for prosecution in the future.”

The man was wearing slippers and was holding a bag of Parmesan cheese he said he had just bought.

Photo: Rachel Wong/HKFP.

Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui arrived on the scene after 10pm and attempted to mediate between protesters and police.

Some people were eventually allowed to walk towards a nearby estate to leave the scene by showing police their HKID card though most people remained past 11pm.

Correction March 12: this article previously stated that Chan Yin-lam’s body was found last October. It was found last September.

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.