Hundreds of masked protesters yelling “Revolution Now!” crammed the sidewalk in front of Hong Kong’s High Court and spilled onto the street in an impassioned show of support Wednesday for an activist appealing a six-year prison sentence for his part in a violent nightlong clash with police.
As a prison service bus with mesh-covered windows drove Edward Leung away after the hearing, supporters pressed up against the vehicle, briefly blocking traffic, and held five fingers up in their air. That symbolizes the five demands of Hong Kong’s protest movement for direct elections, amnesty for arrested demonstrators and other wishes.
The fate of his appeal was not immediately clear.
China’s government has targeted an array of companies and the National Basketball Association for perceived support of the Hong Kong anti-government protests. Apple Inc. became the latest on Wednesday when the ruling Communist Party’s main newspaper criticized the tech giant for a smartphone app on its App Store that allows activists to report police locations and use of tear gas.
The app, HKmap.live, “facilitates illegal behavior,” the People’s Daily said in a commentary. It warned that Apple might be damaging its reputation with Chinese consumers.
Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Beijing has pressed companies including Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways to take the government’s side against the protests, which are in their fourth month.
China’s state broadcaster canceled broadcasts of NBA games after the general manager of one of its teams tweeted support for the protesters.
Leung, the activist, emerged as one of the figureheads of protest in Hong Kong after 2014′s failed nonviolent demonstrations over Beijing’s decision to restrict elections.
Among supporters who gathered outside Wednesday’s hearing was Kenny Lee, 23, who said Leung “has inspired a lot of Hong Kong people, especially our young people.”
Even jailed, Leung’s activism still resonates as Hong Kong is again gripped by protests that have snowballed since June.
“He started spreading his idea a few years ago but at that time, not many people really understood him and some even criticized him,” said J. Sze, a supporter in her twenties.
“Now, some people start to agree with his idea, maybe a little bit late,” she said.
Leung has been an advocate of independence for Hong Kong, which reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997. He was sentenced in June 2018 for his role in a Feb. 8-9, 2016, outbreak of violence in the city’s working-class Mong Kok district.