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Sandwiches

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This is the commentary for the gallery for 4 October 2014 on Umbrella Diaries.

I posted this on Facebook on 4 October 2014:

I was able to witness possibly one of the tensest sandwich delivery earlier this morning at Admiralty. Protestors and police negotiators had finally managed to decide on how food, water, and medical supplies could be transported to police lines at the Chief Executive’s Office, which has been blockaded by protestors seeking to prevent Leung Chun-ying from going to work.

Just past midnight, police officers had climbed over the barriers to the overpass, charged through a crowd of protestors and members of the press, injuring at least one sleeping protestor with batons.

Hours later, food and drink had been delivered without incident, both parties had established a standard operating procedure:

1. Whatever to be delivered is to come in transparent packaging and open crates, then delivered through Queensway and Rodney Street by police officers accompanied by protestors.

2. Protestors are to ensure that at least one cameraman from a broadcaster is around to film the entire process.

3. A lone unarmed, un-uniformed police officer is allowed to clamber over the barriers and oversee protestors who will help to load the items onto two trolleys.

4. Once at the other side of the overpass where the Legislative Council Complex is, the items are to be placed on the barriers (pictured in photograph) and the police officer will call to let officers in the Complex know they can approach the barriers from their side.

5. A lone security guard will walk towards the barrier first, followed by at most three armed police officers.

6. The police officer on the protestors’ side of the overpass is then escorted back to the barriers on the Rodney Street side, and asked to declare that no ammunition or weaponry have been transported.

7. The police officer is then allowed to leave.

The protestors also asked the police officer if he could provide a schedule of deliveries to prevent undue anxiety on the part of protestors fearful of being tear gassed, pepper sprayed or beaten by batons. Protestors also complained that the police had not provided a single point of contact earlier, making it difficult for them to assist police in deliveries. Both parties later exchanged numbers.

It was fascinating because it was a lesson in how people can build trust in low-trust conditions, given that all this had been spontaneous and unplanned; no one leader was in charge. In fact protestors had argued among themselves for almost half an hour about the number of policemen allowed on the overpass, and if the police should be trusted again given that they had mislead fellow protestors on Tim Wa Avenue twice in the past two days.

This arrangement broke down the next day when the police broke through the barricades protestors put up at Tim Wa Avenue.

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