The excessive use of force by the police has been a rallying cry for protesters as well, and has galvanized support for the movement across Hong Kong society. Online videos and news reporting show the police severely beating nonresisting protesters, making arbitrary arrests and attacking innocent passersby, firing rubber bullets at point blank distance and in one instance, allegedly standing by while pro-Beijing gang members wantonly attacked protesters and bystanders at a train station.

The youngsters on the front lines, clad in black and wearing gas or face masks, cannot match the police’s weapons or lethal power, so they have responded by actively engaging in arson, vandalism, road blockades, brick and petrol-bomb throwing and destruction of public property. Their resistance is not sporadic, but systematic and organized.

The protesters’ trashing of Hong Kong’s metro stations has now become routine. About half of the city’s 91 stations have been damaged. On Oct. 1 alone, China’s National Day, 20 stations were subject to vandalism and arson. The entrances of prominent stations such as Central and Wanchai (think Times Square and Grand Central) were set aflame.