Sunday, May 11, 2008

NYT Archive 1989: Students Bike To Support Journalists

After more than 1,000 journalists submitted a petition of their own demanding an official dialog, the hibernating student movement came back alive, briefly, to support the journalists. On May 11, 1989, New York Times reported that more than 5,000 students paraded on their bicycles to show support for journalists:
The cycling parade drew tens of thousands of spectators along the 30-mile journey. The students wove their way past the Central People's Broadcasting Station, the Central Television Station, the New China News Agency, the People's Daily and the Guangming Daily, whose name is translated Brightness Daily. At each of the headquarters, they stopped and chanted slogans.
''People's Daily, you cheat the people!'' they shouted. ''Brightness Daily, you bring forth no light! Central Television Station, you turn white into black!''
There were no run-ins with the police, and no streets were cordoned off as they have been during previous protests. Even the traffic police seemed to defer to the students. The result was that there were numerous traffic jams, as waves of bicycles blanketed the streets or threaded their way among cars and pedestrians.
The parade surprised a lot of people, including many commuters who were not pleased. As NYT reported, Beijing residents appeared to have had enough of the demonstrations already:
In the first sign that the students may be annoying workers more than inspiring them, some pedestrians on their way home appeared irritated at the traffic tie-ups caused by the tangle of bicycles, buses and people.
''They should announce beforehand when they plan to march, so that we can avoid them,'' one bystander said in exasperation.
A young man said angrily: ''Another demonstration? I think one or two is enough. Is there no end?''
Some students brushed aside such complaints, saying the traffic jams were one way to attract the Government's attention. As night fell, the crowds poured out from their homes to the roadsides where they cheered on the students. Some pedestrians directed traffic to help maintain order, as they shouted their support for the students.
''We can't lose the support from the people because we are voicing their opinions, too,'' said Zheng Zhi, a 20-year-old aerospace design student.

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