The Hong Kong protest movement reached a milestone Tuesday: It was 80 days since the mass march that started the near-daily demonstrations across the city.
That means the protest campaign has lasted longer than the 2014 Umbrella Movement, in which demonstrators occupied roads to call for greater democracy. And even in the face of threatened intervention by the Chinese military, the protesters show no sign of stopping.
Hong Kongers first took to the streets June 9 over a proposed law allowing extraditions to mainland China. Their demands later grew. It is now the biggest political crisis in Hong Kong since Britain returned its onetime colony to Chinese control in 1997.
Photographer Lam Yik Fei has spent the past 12 weeks on the sweltering summer streets of Hong Kong, dodging tear gas canisters and pepper spray to document each step of the movement for The New York Times. He was there June 9, when hundreds of thousands of protesters poured through the skyscrapered canyons of downtown, and again this past Sunday, when a police officer fired a warning shot while under attack from protesters.
Among his most powerful images from the past 80 days:
Organisers said 1 million people joined the first march, or nearly 1 in every 7 people in Hong Kong.
When the government refused to back down on the extradition bill, protesters came out again June 12 and surrounded the legislature. The police fired tear gas canisters — the first of many; by one count more than 1,800 would be fired by early August.
Three days later, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, announced that the extradition bill would be suspended, but not withdrawn. That did little to stop the public furore. The next day, protesters marched again. Organisers said nearly 2 million participated.
July 1 marked the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China.
The date has been one of protest for more than a decade, but this display of dissent culminated in one of the more remarkable moments of the summer: Demonstrators smashed their way into the legislature, painting slogans on walls and defacing symbols of Chinese authority.
Two weeks later, the police and protesters clashed in a mall in a satellite town. Then on July 21, hours after protesters vandalised the Chinese government's liaison office in the city, a mob attacked a group of protesters in a train station. The appearance of police inaction on that night has fueled widespread criticism of the Hong Kong force.
Three days of civil disobedience culminated in a call for a general strike on Aug. 5 — perhaps the biggest day of unrest this summer. Trains were blocked and hundreds of flights were canceled after thousands of civil aviation employees stayed home.
At several locations across the city, police officers fired tear gas during protests.
A week later, protesters returned to the airport, where days of sit-ins led to the cancellation of hundreds more flights.
Protesters assaulted two men from mainland China, and when the violence was broadcast by the local news media, it prompted soul searching and apologies. It was followed by nearly two weeks of relative calm, though protests did continue, including a human chain across much of the city.
In Shenzhen, a mainland city near Hong Kong, paramilitary police officers drilled in a show of force. Last weekend, clashes began anew, with two days of tear gas. On Sunday, a police officer fired the first gunshot, a warning after a colleague fell as a group of protesters charged them with sticks and metal bars.
Another march is planned for the end of the month. For now, the cycle of protest appears set to continue.
Written by: Austin Ramzy
Photographs by: Lam Yik Fei
© 2019 THE NEW YORK TIMES