Before the 8 a.m. bell rings at high schools across the city, uniformed students at some of them gather to join hands, chanting protest slogans or singing “the revolution of our times,” words from a popular protest anthem.
Hong Kong officials had expressed hope the city’s biggest protest movement in decades would begin to subside when classes resumed in September.
Instead, violence between demonstrators and police has intensified, producing some of the bloodiest days since the protests began in June—and schools have become a driver of the city’s uprising against China’s ruling party.
This week, clashes paralyzed Hong Kong, disrupting commutes and shutting down schools. Violence escalated Thursday when protesters at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University shot arrows at policemen, who responded with volleys of tear gas. Chinese President Xi Jinping, speaking at a summit in Brazil Thursday, blamed protesters for the violence and urged a tough police response.
Confrontations between protesters and police have turned university campuses into battle zones. Clashes at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and other universities prompted hundreds of mainland Chinese students to flee. The action on college campuses is bolstered by protesters not yet old enough to attend; high school students are turning up at the forefront of battles throughout the city.