Hundreds of mostly black-clad Hongkongers gathered and laid flowers outside a mall in Admiralty on Tuesday evening to pay tribute to a pro-democracy protester on the second anniversary of his death.
Marco Leung passed away after falling from a platform outside the Pacific Place mall in Admiralty last June 15. The 35-year-old had been installing a banner protesting the government’s ill-fated bill that would have allowed Hongkongers to be extradited to mainland China.
The banner laid out the five demands that became the rallying cry of the months-long protests and unrest.
The group of mourners were surrounded by police officers who warned those present not to violate social distancing measures. Hong Kong’s Covid-19 regulations currently cap public gatherings to four people. Officers were also seen filming the scene and searching people on the pavement and in the nearby MTR station.
No fines or arrests were made at the site, the force told HKFP on Wednesday.
Artwork at the memorial site featured a yellow raincoat, a garment Leung had been wearing at the time of his death which subsequently became a protest symbol.
The Hong Kong police had initially considered Leung’s death a suicide. It was eventually ruled as a misadventure by a coroner’s jury at the end of last month.
The high-profile pro-democracy protester known as “Grandma Wong” was also present.
“Mr Leung… is the first person to die in our movement,” she told HKFP. She added that the presence of police scared her but she was determined to carry on. “I need to do what I need to do. I must insist to come out.”
Another mourner called Peggy told HKFP she had stayed up the night before to prepare white ribbons for the public. “We want to remind other Hong Kong people to remember this day,” she said.”
“After the national security law, the Hong Kong social movement has become pretty silent and the political situation is pretty tense right now. So I think we need to grab every opportunity to express our opinion,” she continued.
In response to the months of protests, Beijing imposed a national security law that rights groups and foreign governments have labelled as draconian. Last Friday, the UK said the law “drastically curtailed free speech” and was used to stifle political opposition. However, Beijing and the Hong Kong authorities have asserted the law was necessary to restore order.
Peggy also said she noticed a drastic drop in the number of people who showed up this year. “Last year I waited here for two hours… but right now I only have to queue 15 minutes.”
Last year, thousands defied social distancing regulations to pay tribute to the fallen protester.
The protester’s death marked the early days of the months of pro-democracy protests and unrest that rocked the city two years ago. The day following Leung’s passing, a mass demonstration against the extradition bill saw an estimated two million people take to the streets.
Additional Reporting: Tom Grundy.