This has been absolutely extraordinary.
Some had thought there had been a drop in the public’s levels of commitment to this pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong – but those doubters could not have been more wrong.
Victoria Park, the venue for this rally, only holds 150,000 or so people. Even as I arrived for some early filming, I could tell by the numbers all round me that it was going to be very full.
And I wasn’t wrong – it was full to bursting before the event was even due to start.
Tens, then hundreds of thousands, descended on this high-end part of Hong Kong Island, determined to “be there” to show their solidarity.
They queued to get into the entrances of the park as the heavens opened.
As the rain lashed down, the umbrellas – which are very much an emblem of protesting here – were opened.
With the park at absolute capacity, the late arrivals filled the streets as far as the eye could see, while a huge influx of passengers overwhelmed nearby metro stations, which were eventually forced to close.
But still people kept on coming – now on foot.
From pedestrian footbridges, we filmed some of the most remarkable images of a rally I have ever seen: the streets a heaving mass of pretty, colourful umbrellas marching in different directions on a six-lane highway. People around us gasped at the size of the crowd – the sheer numbers were astonishing.
They marched and chanted. No pushing or shoving, and no sign of violence. They defied a police marching ban and government condemnation.
The Beijing and Hong Kong administrations already knew they had a problem, especially after a week of increased violence and airport shut downs. But now they know they really have a problem.
This show is one of absolute defiance and absolute demand to be heard.
Time and again protesters have acknowledged that their demands are not being listened to.
“So we carry on, we have no choice,” one young man told me.
The people clearly never had any intention of staying put regardless of what the police had said. With these numbers, there wouldn’t be a way of stopping them without causing pandemonium, and almost certain loss of life.
So began an enormous, sometimes chaotic, but always good-humoured march in the pouring rain.
It wasn’t just one march though – it was everywhere. Moving in different directions. The aim to be on the streets, and not to head for a final destination. Essentially a takeover of the streets.
Roads in every direction were choked with protesters. Some of the city’s largest streets were filled to bursting.
It was almost impossible to go against this tide of humanity.
Incredibly, the shops in the Causeway Bay remained open as the march continued. We found ourselves pushed through the doors of a super upmarket shopping mall, past mega expensive handbag and jewellery shops. Nobody could stem this crowd.
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Near an escalator, a smartly suited member of staff forlornly held a sign above his head, reading: “Don’t Push”. The crowd tried to observe etiquette befitting such an establishment. It was a crazy scene.
Then onwards, we were swept through streets, skyscrapers towering above the people, crowds determined to be listened to.
After hours and miles on the move, their numbers still filled the streets.
A remarkable event that won’t be forgotten in Hong Kong, or, for that matter, in Beijing.