1. 8/31 is the anniversary of a tipping point moment in the information ecosystem of #HongKongProtests.
2. The facts as documented are extremely damning. Before 8/31, getting past the MTR turnstiles was kind of a “get out a jail free card.” On 8/31, cops not only crossed that unspoken truce line but went inside train cars and brutalized passengers
3. There was video of a young man left unresponsive and foaming at the mouth. Many only comments suggested it was evidence of a spinal injury. I don’t think we ever learned his name or what happened to him, partly b/c of HK privacy laws and partly b/c HKPF are just pricks. https://twitter.com/wingp/status/1171612487134961666
4. Then cops just closed the whole station down and expelled the media. This video of a teenage volunteer first aider begging HKPF to be let in to attend the wounded went viral. And that was about the end to the ‘confirmed’ info coming out of Prince Edward MTR that night. https://twitter.com/dj_godblesshk/status/1168175648059183104
5. 8/31 happened two and a half months into the 2019 movement. Things were getting more violent every weekend on the streets. Then HKPF went on a rampage inside an MTR station, we documented meeting our severe violence and causing severe injuries.
6. None of the injuries came back out of the MTR station. There were a line of ambulances waiting outside to treat them. But police say they commandeered MTR trains to send them to different hospitals rathen than take them out of the Prince Edward MTR exit.
7. IIRC, it took a long time (maybe not until the IPCC report was released this year) for HKPF to ever give a full account of their version of the story. But by not being transparent, shutting out media, inflicting such traumatic and violent scenes...

... imaginations took off.
8. I’ve written the long-form of this but don’t know if made it past editing to print, but what happened afterwards was this: some subset of protesters KNEW people must have died that night. Belief in this grew as police refused to tell the complete story.
9. Within about a week, someone noticed sad but routine notice send out by a high school principals informing parents that there had been a student suicide. There were two, at two diff schools. For a people desperate for answers, they saw an immediate link:

it was a conspiracy.
10. There was a day or two when it seemed perfectly logical even to me. It was becoming increasingly difficult to believe no one had officially died in 2.5 months of violent protests. Cops were just writing “suicide” as cause of death.
11. So we have footage of a young person unconscious but foaming out of the mouth, the MTR station shuts down, neither he or anyone else is brought out to the waiting ambulances.

At that place and time, it clicked. He died and this is how they covered it up. https://twitter.com/comparativist/status/1300442784726355969
12. HKPF were basically demanded to disprove that no one died that night. People like me just wanted to know how serious the injuries were. And they basically smugly shrugged off everyone asking for things like CCTV footage. They fueled the conspiratorial fires.
13. After that basic template took hold - that police could cover up a death at their hands by documenting it as a suicide - people started noticing suicides everywhere. HK is statistically avg here, and off the top of my head that =‘s about two a day.
14. There were about nine months when a certain segment of HK Twitter (RIP) and entire Telegram groups (RIP) would go over any and all pictures of recent suicides. The Twitter School of Medical Pathology produced many overnight doctorates, explaining how a head _should_ explode. https://twitter.com/comparativist/status/1300444202820489216
15. I’ll end this thread a TL;DR recap of a conversation I had with a good friend last month about 8/31. I said I didn’t think anyone died, HK is big but too small for secrets like that to stay hidden. It’s been a year but we don’t have a single name for any alleged victim.
16. Her counter-argument was simply that HK and HKPF had changed beyond recognition and earlier than I presumed. We both agreed such things could be hidden in TODAY’s (post-NSL) HK, she merely disagreed that HK hadn’t already crossed that point a year earlier.
That, IMO, is the cultural and political salience of 8/31. It’s an information black box where HKPF did a lot to fuel suspicion and mistrust. What you think happened that night seems to depend on how deep over the abyss you think Hong Kong was at that point in time.
In other words the salience of 8/31 is less about what one actually believes did or didn’t happen that nigh, but rather one could look at their own govt and answer affirmatively that they COULD disappear people and shut up their families for more than a year. https://twitter.com/comparativist/status/1300446215876698112
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