One autumn Saturday morning, I looked out of my window and I saw that
people had blocked off a main four-lane street and were sitting on the
road on chairs.
I went downstairs to see what was going on.
The residents of the old five-story apartment buildings (at the bottom-right) were protesting
against the developer who was going to demolish their homes to build a
new highrise condo project.
Many residents had already left. Their apartments were stripped of
everything of value and even the doors and windows were removed. (You
can see some empty windows in the photograph above.)
These people were old and poor and they were complaining that were
being offered far too little compensation to allow them to buy
It took over an hour before the first police car arrived. The policeman
just watched and never got out of his car. Then it took over another
hour, or more, for a senior officer to arrive.
The protesters screamed that they were old and poor and they had
nowhere to go. They taunted the police to shoot them. The police ,like
all that I saw in Changchun, were unarmed and did not show any interest
in getting tough.
It took a long time but finally the police got two lanes open for
traffic. Then they left. Private security guards then showed up and
eventually the protesters went back home and the security guards got
all four lanes opened for traffic.
A few months later, the last of the residents left, their homes
were razed and the power shovels and dump trucks moved in.
This is the same street today where the protest took place three years
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