An ordinary Hong Kong youth, a quiet street singer, probably did not appear in the parades or rallies during the Hong Kong anti-extradition movement. He was neither a hard nor a soft anti-extradition bill protester. He just played his guitar and sang songs in the street. He used his songs and music to express his hopes and wishes..
However, one day, the usual street scene of playing his guitar and singing became a battlefield.
One night in late October 2019, it was quiet as usual. On the side of a road in Central, Hong Kong, a short, thin young man played his guitar and sang his songs. He was wearing a blue shirt with black stripes, black trousers, and black and white sneakers. Across the road, neon lights with changing colors flashed their reflections on the guitar held by the singer. There was red for a while, then white, yellow, and green.
Pedestrians passed him from time to time and some passers-by put their change in the guitar case on the ground. The singer quietly and steadfastly strummed the guitar, singing in English a song that everyone in Hong Kong is familiar with called Glory to Hong Kong.
Then, four police officers, three men and one woman, surrounded him.
The singer continued to play his guitar and sing. It was hard to hear what the policemen were saying to him, but the male policemen seemed to have unfriendly eyes. There was no expression on the female police officer’s face. The subtitles on the video read: The police are threatening and warning the singer.
The singer ignored them and continued his singing. A police officer approached him, pointing his finger and talking. Another police officer began to provoke him by buckling a police hat over the young man’s cell phone on a stand next to the microphone being used to display music scores and lyrics.
The young man remained calm, continuing to sing and play. During a short break in the song, he used the hand playing the guitar to throw the police hat to the side, knocking it up into the air and onto the ground. It was the only limited effort and single move that the singer made during the confrontation between the singer and the police that went on for more than 40 minutes.
The singer continued his singing. The policeman picked up his hat from the ground angrily and touched the singer with his hand. The singer was not irritated and continued to sing to the roaring policemen.
Before the singer finished the song, the police came up, grabbed him, and tried to drag him away. He turned around, trying to get away from the hold. Several police officers pointed their fingers at the young man and yelled: “You must stop. We have warned you many times. We’re taking you to the police station!” The police officer picked up the guitar case on the ground. Two police officers pulled and dragged the singer’s arm, wanting to take him away forcibly. The singer said: “Don’t touch me.”
At this time, more and more people were watching. Someone in the crowd shouted: “Can’t we listen to songs?”
Someone shouted: “Why arrest him? Is there any problem with him singing here? What’s the problem? What law did he violate?”
Others shouted: “The police capture the people singing. Does any law rule Hong Kong?”
People shouted: “Can’t we sing?” “Can’t we listen to songs?” “Does Hong Kong need a license to sing?” “Can’t you let people sing?” “This is an illegal robbery!”…
Later, the people shouted together: “Sing, sing, we want to listen to the song!”
A bald police officer kept pointing his finger at the singer.
The police officers looked at the angry crowd around them and did not dare to drag the singer away, but continued to speak angrily to him. The young man did not speak, and he had no facial expression. Both his hands held his guitar tightly as if holding a gun. The citizens continued to express their dissatisfaction.
The policemen wanted to check the singer’s license. He calmly took out a piece of paper from his trouser pocket and the male policeman gave it to the young female officer. The female officer recorded the singer’s personal information.
A foreigner took photos with a cell phone and spoke in English to a man in white clothes: “According to basic principles of law, anyone has the right to express their opinions in an artistic way.”
The singer stood still, with no resistance or anger, still holding his guitar. The four police officers surrounded the singer tightly, facing each other.
(To be continued in Part 2)
Translated by Joseph Wu and edited by Helen