Street protests

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 replacement homes.

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 before.

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