Six days in, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have turned violent. Counter-protesters sprung up outside protester camps in Mong Kok, one of Hong Kong’s most densely populated districts.
That’s in stark contrast to earlier protests, where leaders called for nonviolent sit-ins and volunteers could be seen cleaning up any messes made.
But demonstrators say the sudden violence is coming from triads, or organized crime syndicates, cooperating with the Hong Kong law enforcement in order to disrupt the protests.
PROTESER VIA THE GUARDIAN: “They have evidence they paid $300 they were paid for the triad members to suppress the students in Admiralty. $200 in Mong Kok.”
The Hong Kong Federation of Students released a statement blaming the government for colluding with triads and thugs and said they should be held responsible for any of the negative consequences.
Out of the 19 people arrested Saturday morning, The New York Times reports eight of them had connections with triads, adding “The Mong Kok area is notorious for organized gangs or triads that extort payments from the many small businesses there, or in some cases own the businesses.”
Responding to the claims of government-triad cooperation, Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed Under Secretary for Security strongly denied it to the South China Morning Post, calling the accusations “fabricated” and “unfair.”
Regardless of the possible government-triad collusion, counter protesters made up of ordinary Hong Kongers do exist. They wear blue ribbons in support of the police a Time correspondent reports a good portion of them at one rally were retired police officers.
But it’s not just retired police officers and gang members opposing Hong Kong’s protests. State media has framed the pro-democracy demonstrations as disruptive and destructive. And some residents agree.
Quartz quotes one Chinese citizen saying the protests have caused the city losses, and they found others from the mainland were simply annoyed it was harder for them to shop.
Even so, USA Today says protesters consider themselves to have already achieved one significant goal — getting Hong Kong’s own materialistic society to pay more attention to politics.
This video contains images from Getty Images.