Pro Hong Kong Rally in Astor Place Calls for International Action and Support

This photo series highlights the activists fighting for freedom of expression, transparency in elections, and the ending of police brutality in Hong Kong.


Alexandra Chan

A protestor holds a sign with the slogan “Free Hong Kong, Democracy Now!” The poster is reflective of the five demands of Hong Kong protestors, one of which is universal suffrage for the Chief Executive and Legislative Council positions. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)

By Alexandra Chan

On Sunday Oct. 13th, a local organization NY4HK held a rally in support of Hong Kong at the Cube in Astor Place. The event was publicized through social media and rally-goers were encouraged to wear black in support of the movement overseas. Many prominent activists spoke, including Jeffrey Ngo of Demosisto and Sharon Hom of Human Rights in China, as well as a surprise appearance from Cantopop singer-activist Denise Ho. A band called The Sound of Bauhinia performed songs considered Hong Kong protest anthems. The event closed out with volunteers initiating call and response slogans with the audience.

A protestor waving a U.S.A. flag holds a sign with the slogan “Hong Kongers, Resist!” The new slogan has replaced an older slogan “Hong Kongers, Keep Going!” as of early October following the escalation of police brutality where protestors were shot by live rounds. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
A protestor holds a sign with the slogan “Free Hong Kong, Democracy Now!” The poster is reflective of the five demands of Hong Kong protestors, one of which is universal suffrage for the Chief Executive and Legislative Council positions. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
A protestor holds up a tri-fold posterboard of images and slogans, mimicking a Lennon Wall, named after the Lennon Wall in Prague following John Lennon’s assassination. The Lennon Wall is a popular way for protestors to show support with artwork or notes, and also represents the fight for freedom of expression. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
A protestor holds a yellow umbrella, marked with some of the five demands and topped with paper cranes in the symbolic colours of the protest. The Umbrella Movement in 2014 demanded transparency in elections after it was revealed the CCP pre-determined the Chief Executive candidates, and was named after the use of umbrellas by protestors to protect against pepper spray from the police. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
A volunteer with the NY4HK organization holds up a banner for the rally, calling for support and hope for a better Hong Kong. Rallies in solidarity are independently organized across the globe, significantly so right before the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
NY4HK organizer Anna stands on a platform and speaks to the crowd at Astor Place. The NY4HK organization was formed in 2014 to support democracy efforts for Hong Kong across New York, and Anna previously went on Fox Nation to advocate for Hong Kong protestors. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
Jeffrey Ngo, an NYU alumnus and current PhD student pursuing a history degree at Georgetown University, spoke at the rally, citing his experience in the Hong Kong protests and encouraging people to keep the international spotlight on Hong Kong. Ngo is an activist historian and chief researcher for Demosistō, a youth activist group for Hong Kong and he has published many articles in prominent publications about the fight for Hong Kong’s self-determination. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
A protestor holds up a sign memorializing the 15 year old girl who was an accomplished swimmer and studied at the Hong Kong Design Institute, and was found dead and naked in the sea in late September. Her death was ruled a suicide by the police but protestors are skeptical about the investigation, especially as her body was quickly cremated after discovery. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
Human rights advocate and Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University Professor Michael Davis spoke about non violent protest and encouraged protestors to take the high road. Professor Davis taught at Hong Kong University for 10 years until 2016 and is a prominent activist about human rights issues across Asia. Many publications have featured Davis’ commentary supporting civil disobedience during the Umbrella Movement, receiving the 2014 Human Rights Press Award from Amnesty International and Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
Sharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China, Adjunct Professor of Law at the NYU School of Law and Professor of Law Emerita at CUNY spoke to the crowd. Hom previously testified in front of the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China in Washington DC in September along with other activists about the situation in Hong Kong to encourage representative support of the Hong Kong Rights and Democracy Act. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
A woman from a local Taiwanese group spoke to the crowd in Mandarin and English, emphasizing that the fight against the CCP that people from Taiwan and Hong Kong face each day are one and the same. The highly controversial Extradition Bill that began this series of protests was written in response to an incident where Taiwanese authorities were unable to arrest a man who fled to Hong Kong after committing a crime on Taiwanese land. There’s a decisive election coming up in Taiwan later this year, which will determine the degree to which Taiwan cooperates with the CCP and if the fight for autonomy will continue. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
A band named The Sound of Bauhinia performed songs such as the new anthem “Glory to Hong Kong” which was written for the protest, “Do You Hear the People Sing” which is a popular protest song from the musical Les Misérables, and “Below the Lion Rock” which is about the community of Hong Kong. The Sound of Bauhinia also previously performed at the Washington Square Park rally on Oct. 6 and was formed two days before that rally. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
Each performer of The Sound of Bauhinia wore a uniform of yellow hard hats, sunglasses, and black masks with holes cut in them along with an all black outfit. The yellow hard hats represent the front-line protestors, and specifically call back to one incident where when presented with video evidence of police officers kicking a protestor on the ground, the HKPF decided to say the video shows a “yellow object” and they couldn’t determine if it was a person. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
Cantopop singer-activist Denise Ho made a surprise appearance at the rally and spoke to the crowd spoke about ways supporters can participate and help the movement, by writing to representatives and spreading awareness about the fight for democracy. In July, Ho spoke at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in Geneva, calling for the UN to remove China from the Human Rights Council, and was one of the activists to testify in front of the U.S. Congressional Committee about the situation in Hong Kong; she is also permanently banned from China since her participation in the Umbrella Movement. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
Protestors hold signs about Hong Kong’s Basic Law and a desire to see a free Hong Kong. The Basic Law was written at the hand-off from the UK in 1997 establishing Hong Kong’s controlled political independence from China’s interference until 2047 for the sake of a smoother transition which has been ignored by the CCP many times. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
As The Sound of Bauhinia play “Glory to Hong Kong” for the last time, a volunteer stands on a chair to wave a flag with a protest slogan that says “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution in Our Time.” (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
A volunteer stands on the platform to close out the rally and leads the crowd in singing along to a Cantonese cover of Sia’s Chandelier, with lyrics modified to lambast the rampant police brutality in Hong Kong. As with many other NY4HK volunteers, he wears a shirt designed by the organization at the protest which was sold at the rally along with tote bags and water bottles in support of the movement. NY4HK also said this was the last time they could sell their merchandise and they would not open up an online store. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
One protestor holds up a sign with a popular depiction of Xi Jinping, the CCP’s current president, as Winnie the Pooh and Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam as Piglet, his lackey. Since netizens have pointed out Xi’s similarity with the cartoon bear, all depictions of the character have been banned in China, making it a popular protest symbol. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)
Large banners lie on the ground in front of the audience with messages and slogans. The Astor Place rally was a reminder of how the protests are formed by the people for the people, without wealthy donors or a primary leader, but everyone is willing to fight for Hong Kong. (Photo by Alexandra Chan)