What began five days ago as a Hong Kong student class boycott has swept into a city-wide pro-democracy protest movement, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. The public face of the crowd? Seventeen-year-old activist Joshua Wong.
The teen has been on the front lines of the campaign to oust Hong Kong's leader and establish democracy in the city. It's a role that has already landed Joshua in police custody. He was among the dozens taken into custody by Hong Kong police forces at the onset of the protest.
Joshua suffered bruises during his arrest, and he remained in custody for 40 hours without charges, according to Reuters. And yet, upon his release, he told South China Morning Post that he'd soon be back "to join the fight."
He kept his promise. A reporter from the South China Morning Post tweeted the scene yesterday:
This is hardly Joshua's first time rallying a protest crowd. At age 15, he founded the student activist group, "Scholarism." The group organized 120,000 protesters in a successful campaign against China's attempts to bring its national curriculum to Hong Kong.
Joshua sees his young age as an asset. "Young people will always be the pioneers...," he said to Bloomberg News. “In a rally, who could walk faster? A 40-year-old or someone much younger?"
Joshua may be young, but he knows the risks he faces. In a past interview with South China Morning Post, Joshua said he knew he could be punished by the government for his activism. But the student doesn't seem to view himself martyr. He dismissed comparisons between him and Martin Luther King and defined his cause as far bigger than himself, saying, "Hong Kong is what inspires me."
CORRECTION: This article previously stated that Chinese police forces arrested dozens of protestors; the arrests were specifically carried out by the Hong Kong Police Force.