Just before midnight in Hong Kong's Mong Kok district, a slight man in his 70s peels away from a crowd of protesters jeering at police. Behind him, a young woman calls out, "Be safe!"

They make an improbable pair: she a smartly dressed 24-year-old; he an elderly activist who has for decades been sleeping on the streets of one of the wealthiest — and most unequal — cities on Earth.

Bringing the two together is a movement that began in June with protests against a bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China. The proposed legislation has since been withdrawn.