#Fishballrevolution: Hong Kong’s social media users react to violent Mong Kok hawker protest
The riot broke out as police attempted to clear hawkers on Portland Street in Hong Kong’s busy Mong Kok district
Street hawkers clashed with police in Mong Kok on the first night of the Lunar New Year in violent scenes, prompting Hong Kong netizens to dub it ‘fishball revolution’.
A mass response to health officers cracking down on street food sellers’ hygiene standards quickly became a riot on Portland Street, with glass bottles and bricks being used as projectiles.
Tensions escalated after police pointed guns in the faces of protesters and warning shots were fired.
READ MORE: Hong Kong’s New Year night of ‘rioting’ leaves Mong Kok in lockdown after street hawker crackdown descends into ugly street battles between police and protesters
— Brandon (@b3108) February 8, 2016
Both sides equipped themselves for physical conflict, with police donning shields, batons, pepper spray and guns, while protesters reportedly arrived armed with home-made shields, goggles, helmets and gloves.
— Vivienne Chow (@VivienneChow) February 8, 2016
Hongkongers sought to highlight the protest was about the problems faced by street food hawkers – spawning the Twitter hashtag #fishballrevolution.
Some suggested that violent factions had hijacked the protest for their own means.
— Trey Menefee (@trey_menefee) February 8, 2016
While the protest began as a pushback against police trying to clear Mong Kok of hawkers, the vendors themselves were not necessarily involved in the events that escalated to violence.
— Free Mind (@FreeMindTH) February 8, 2016
The use of #fishballrevolution was met with criticism as Hongkongers commented the lighthearted hashtag undermined the seriousness of the violence.
SCMP journalist Vivienne Chow posted: “OMG now the #Mongkok chaos is dubbed #fishballrevolution #HongKong.”
Another tweeter said: “#HongKong The #UmbrellaMovement has now become #FishballRevolution . Talking about pathetic... A new degree in childishness.”
Closing off the same block on Nathan Road as during the pro-democracy protest 2014, some commenters pointed out the parallels between last night and the Occupy movement.
Mong Kok – one of Hong Kong’s busiest districts – was put on lockdown following the night of violence.
Early reports suggested 48 police officers were injured. Twenty-three people were arrested for various public order offences. Police could not immediately confirm the number of injured protesters.
Others on social media questioned the police resources given to clearing street hawkers.
— Benjamin Haas 本雅明 (@haasbenjamin) February 9, 2016
Hong Kong Chinese New Year - Riot police to move fish ball sellers and hawkers. let the fish ball revolution start . #fishball #fishballrevolution #CNY #chinesenewyear #Hongkong #mongkok #myhome #hawkers #seller
A photo posted by Viann Cheung (@msviannnnnn) on Feb 8, 2016 at 11:12pm PST
Crusade Yau Siu-kei, deputy Mong Kok district commander, confirmed an officer had fired two warning shots during the chaos as it was believed a senior constable’s life was in danger.
There was more than hundred rioters, with 55 arrests and a total of 124 injured, 90 of whom were police.