After two groups marched from the State House to Chinatown — the group in front in solidarity with the protesters in Hong Kong, the group behind against them — Boston police in flack jackets held the line between the sides beneath the Chinatown Gate.
Betty Lo, of Quincy, raised her voice over people shouting Chinese slogans to say she supports the protesters in Hong Kong because of the principles they stand for.
“I'm not a Hong Konger myself, but I speak Cantonese,” she said. "I was born and raised in the U.S., and so I relate to [protesters'] values, their values of civil liberties, freedom, democracy. I value all those things, and they’re on the front lines against [the Chinese Communist Party].”
As the unrest in Hong Kong continues, the protests spilled over into Boston on Sunday, with a level of intensity that wouldn’t be out of the ordinary in the Asian state.
On the other side of the protest, Lin Xu, a realtor based in Boston, likened the strife in Hong Kong to a family fight.
"One day your kids disagree with you,” Xu said. "They say, 'I'm not part of your family.' What do you think? [You say,] ‘No.' Say your last name is China. Then you’re always China.”
The disagreement runs deep in Hong Kong — but one thing many agree on in Boston is they don’t want to see an increase in violence. Tensions ran high in Chinatown, however, with the groups chanting opposing slogans and at least one fight broken up by police.
Wan Wu of Quincy was raised in Hong Kong and joined the counter-protesters, mainly to denounce the use of violence by some among the protesters' ranks.
“I’m always for freedom and democracy, no doubt, but not continued rioting for two months on the street, not using violence,” Wu said “I don’t care what kind of noble, ideal cause you have.”
Tony Ran lives in Hong Kong and said he participated in the protests back in June. Now, nearing the end of a month-long academic trip in the U.S., he joined the Boston protest before heading home the next day.
He said the depiction of protesters as violent belies the real aims of the movement.
“The Hong Kong government really needs to give Hong Kong democracy. … People really want a real system to reflect their opinion so they can feel like they have a stake in Hong Kong," he said, adding he will continue to support the protests until the conflict is resolved.
Clarification: At the request of Betty Lo, a woman interviewed for this story, we have added a parenthetical to her quotation to clarify that she was referring to the Chinese Communist Party, specifically, in her quote — not simply "China."
This article was originally published on August 19, 2019.