Lu ducked into a KFC bathroom, locked the door and scribbled on a piece of blank paper that he would soon raise while in a crowd of protesters: “I came from the mainland. Thank you, Hong Kongers! Don’t give up, fight for freedom!” It was July 7, one month into Hong Kong’s protest movement against an extradition bill that, even after its withdrawal last week, continues to serve as a symbol of unwanted control by Beijing.
Hundreds of thousands were marching in a busy shopping district of Hong Kongfrequented by mainland tourists, chanting in Mandarin to raise awareness of their fight for autonomy, government accountability and democratic reforms. The 25-year-old, who asked to use the pen name “Freedom Lu” to protect his family, had crossed into Hong Kong from the mainland city of Shenzhen to join the protest against the bill that would have allowed extradition of criminal suspects to China for trial.