June 4, 2013 Tiananmen Square 天安門

It’s the 24th anniversary of the “June 4th Incident“. I Went to Tiananmen Square to see if anything would happen. The crowds were huge as usual. Sure enough, as I was approaching the front of the Forbidden City, a plume of white flyers went up into the air. Police and city maintenance workers zeroed in and swept them all up. I got up close and took some pictures. The flyer throwers were all taken by the arm into a paddy wagon after a short argument.

A plain clothes officer approached me and told me to delete my photos. Everything went back to normal. I walked around for a while then crossed underground into the Square.

A few minutes later, more flyers went into the air. This time the wind had caught them and they were flying into the street. There seemed to be some commotion going on like someone was trying to run away.

The police, uniformed and undercover, were jumping the fence and running out onto Chang’an Blvd to scoop up the flyers. Traffic stopped. I wonder who was watching from the windows of the Great Hall?

I meandered around the Square a while and saw a group of young girls examining one of the flyers which they had managed to catch. Some officers approached them and confiscated it.

A few minutes later, another burst of white, like someone had opened a cage of doves. City maintenance workers on scooters zoomed into the scene, brooms and dustbins in hand. Officers sprinted in. The hundreds of flyers that had been thrown were gone in less than a minute.

There was an altercation between the throwers and the officers. Onlookers gathered. I quickly snapped some photos. An undercover officer with an earpiece pointed at me and yelled something. The other officers looked around. There were a lot of people and they didn’t see who he had pointed to.

I stood still with my hands in my pockets hoping they would let it go in the commotion, but the officer came back and pointed at me again, “the tall one! the tall one!” Three officers surrounded me and had me go through all my photos and delete them again.

Every time this happened it got too quiet and too calm. The plain clothes police weren’t even trying to be discreet. The surface tension was broken again by some women screaming at the top of their lungs from somewhere. People were looking around but the women were out of sight.

The screaming got louder and closer. A paddy wagon rushed down the street along the Square in front of the National Museum. Five women were hanging out from the windows holding signs and yelling slogans, but I couldn’t understand them.

I stayed about 20 minutes longer walking up and down the Square, but nothing else happened while I was there. I watched the commercials on the huge monitors. “Xinjiang is a treasured part of the homeland. Xinjiang is a nice place”; a long commercial for Hong Kong; a commercial about children.

As I left I sat down for a minute to watch the line at the security check point just beside the Forbidden City. Usually they let most people walk straight through with a quick glance in your bag if you have one. Now they were doing very thorough searches of bags and jackets and the line was backing up quite far.

One guy with a big gym bag was being searched when the officer pulled out a big, long banner. The officer threw it on the ground and dug deeper into the bag and more officers approached the guy.

I walked to Wangfujing. Nothing out of the ordinary.

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