Protesters confront police about increased force

 | Thu 19 Nov 2020 20:22 ICT

Tuesday night’s flash mob happened quickly. With only an hour’s warning, Chiang Mai’s pro-democracy group known as Community of MorChor called for a pop-up protest. At around 5pm, followers of the group’s Facebook and Twitter pages were invited to join the group at Three Kings Monument for a flash mob.

By 7pm, over 400 people had gathered.

The short notice was due to the increased police force being implemented in the larger protests happening in Bangkok; MorChor felt the need to act swiftly and confront the Chiang Mai Police about the intensifying force. One outraged group organiser said, “What they did today really drove us over the edge. This is our last straw now. Many of my friends in BKK were there (in the Bangkok protest) and they got injured by tear gas. Like, badly injured.” The young girl was speaking about Bangkok’s police enforcement employing water cannons and teargas on pro-democracy protesters.

Community of MorChor speakers kept the growing number of protesters engaged and cheering until around 7pm. Student organisers Watcharapat Thammajak, Thanatorn Vitayabenjang and Vitthaya Klangnil climbed into the back of a pickup truck as attendees gathered behind in march-formation.

The three students spoke on a loudspeaker as the parade left Three Kings Monument. Protesters held signs, sang songs and raised 3-finger salutes in the air as they marched down the streets of Chiang Mai’s old city. Raincoats were worn by protesters as a symbol of condolence for their fellow protesters in Bangkok who experienced the water cannons and teargas.

Shop owners, families out for dinner and pedestrians watched as the roaring crowd marched the evening streets. Some held up 3-finger salutes as the crowd passed.

At 7:30pm the procession reached its destination, Muang Chiang Mai Police Station.

The energised crowd was met with a small police presence. Around 20 officers stood behind a barrier not far from the entrance of the building. Protesters quickly filled the area just in front of the barrier and almost immediately all sat down. Protesters made a small pathway so that Chiang Mai locals in need of police services could still get inside the station. The crowd remained calm and collected.

As the Community of MorChor organisers were allowed to enter the police station to speak, protesters waited patiently outside. Once inside, organisers confronted police officials about Bangkok’s increased police force. The student organisers spoke to police for about 20 minutes; police said they pledged to stay as peaceful as possible throughout the growing protests.

After the chat, organisers returned to the crowd outside. They were met with cheers and clapping as they climbed back aboard the pickup truck.

The three student organisers took turns telling the crowd about their experience inside the police station and sharing their feelings on the teargas and water cannons.

One MorChor organiser said about the confrontation, “We are here as a symbol. We know from the first place that us being here won’t affect anything by legal means. We also know what will come after tonight’s protest. There will be other charges coming to us for breaking the law. We want the police to see and acknowledge that we are not happy and that we support the protest in Bangkok. Also, we want to remind them that for what they have done to us in Bangkok is wrong and illegal. They can kill us but they cannot kill our political ideology. Not this time. The ivory tower is cracked and has started to fall. They cannot stop it.”

The event ended as the crowd walked to the front of the police station for photos.

Community of MorChor organisers say they are committed to pro-democracy and peaceful protesting. The group plans to have many more flash mobs in the coming days.

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