Hundreds of masked protesters yelling “Revolution Now!” crammed the sidewalk in front of Hong Kong’s High Court and spilt onto the street in an impassioned show of support on Wednesday for an activist appealing a six-year prison sentence for his part in a violent nightlong clash with police.
As a prison service bus with mesh-covered windows drove Edward Leung away after the hearing, supporters pressed up against the vehicle, briefly blocking traffic, and held five fingers up in their air.
The five fingers symbolise the five demands of Hong Kong’s latest protest movement for universal suffrage, amnesty for arrested demonstrators and other wishes.
The fate of his appeal was not immediately clear.
Leung emerged as one of the figureheads of protest in Hong Kong after 2014’s failed non-violent demonstrations over Beijing’s decision to restrict elections.
Among supporters who gathered outside the hearing was Kenny Lee, 23, who said Leung “has inspired a lot of people in Hong Kong, especially our young people.”
Even jailed, Leung’s activism still resonates as Hong Kong is again gripped by protests that started in June and have snowballed now.
“He started spreading his idea a few years ago but at that time, not many people really understood him and some even criticised him,” said J. Sze, a supporter in her twenties.
“Now, some people start to agree with his idea, maybe a little bit late,” she said.
Leung has been an advocate of independence for Hong Kong, which reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
The young activist was sentenced in June 2018 for his role in a February 8-9, 2016, outbreak of violence in the city’s working-class Mong Kok district.