HONG KONG – Bouquets of white flowers, written tributes and origami cranes piled up Sunday outside a high-end Hong Kong shopping mall, where a young man plunged to his death protesting against a controversial extradition bill.
The man had hung a banner off the roof of Pacific Place, which overlooks the site of violent clashes last week between police and demonstrators angry at a proposed law that will allow people to be sent to mainland China.
A video circulating on social media showed the man falling from rooftop scaffolding on Saturday evening as firefighters tried to grab him.
They clutch at his clothes and he slips through their hands, missing a jump raft that had been inflated on the ground below.
He had unfurled a banner saying: “Entirely withdraw China extradition bill. We were not rioting. Release students and the injured.”
Thousands of mourners, mostly young people dressed in black, joined enormous queues along busy roads to leave tributes and pay their respects, some crying and bowing as they offered incense sticks.
Next to a large pile of white flowers were hundreds of hand-written messages and gifts, including a bottle of single malt whiskey and a white hard hat with the word “hero” written across it.
“The flowers are white for purity and so we can show our respect for the dead. When I get there, I will offer these and say a prayer for him,” said 18-year-old Travis.
“He walked a bloody road, I admire his energy, I admire his bravery,” said a man named Yung, aged 26.
Signs reading “Help Hong Kong. No extradition to China. RIP” have been posted at the site.
Protesters attending Sunday’s rally against the divisive bill were urged to bring a flower to leave as the marchers passed by the site, and student groups announced plans for a candlelit vigil during the evening.
“I think it will give us more energy to come on the streets today,” said Lau, another mourner standing in the long lines on the busy road.
“Now it’s no longer as simple as someone being hurt or bleeding, it’s someone who lost their life because of this resistance,” said a man who gave his name as Hubert.
“No one wanted to see this happen. I’m sure (Hong Kong Chief Executive) Carrie Lam didn’t want to see this happen, but as Hong Kong’s highest official she should not avoid people’s appeals.”
Sean Lam, a florist from Kowloon district, said he bought multiple boxes of flowers from the wholesalers in the morning to distribute for free to anyone who wanted to lay a bouquet
“It’s just so sad what happened,” he said.
Protesters planned to hold a candlelight vigil for the man at 9 p.m. outside the mall.
The proposed extradition bill — and the fear that it threatens Hong Kong’s way of life, freedom of speech and rule of law — has provoked some of the worst politically motivated violence in the city for decades, with nearly 80 protesters and police hurt and 11 people arrested.
Many of those lining up to pay their tributes said they were going on to join the planned rally through the city to show their opposition to the bill. Organizers said more than 1 million people turned out a recent protest event.
Police said the dead man, surnamed Leung, was 35 years old.
They said they are treating the incident as suicide, adding that a note was found at the scene.