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How do you organize a massive occupation and keep it all together? Look no further than Hong Kong. Here’s a quick look the logistics of the #HongKongProtests on Wednesday.

Photo: SCMP/Martin Chan
“How do they rest, eat, or go to the bathroom? How do they get the information about where to go and what to wear?” (an @InkstoneNews reader asked)
The way Hong Kong’s protesters managed it reflects a leaderless but orderly approach that has come to define the city’s pro-democracy demonstrations.
1. How to rest

The Wednesday demonstrations centered on Admiralty, the political heart of Hong Kong that is dotted with shopping malls and commercial buildings. Here's a rough map showing protesters' reach and key buildings.

Illustration: Inkstone/Tom Leung
An abundance of sheltered facilities in close proximity means that there are plenty of spots for protesters to sit down, or even take a nap if they want to.
In reality, though, the intense standoff between protesters and police meant rest was a secondary concern for the protesters, whom police tried to disperse by using rubber bullets, beanbag rounds, tear gas and pepper spray.
On Wednesday night, protesters took shelter from tear gas in the swanky Pacific Place. It’s home to three five-star hotels, law firms, financial offices, a supermarket and many restaurants.
In a phone call to a local radio show, a protester recalled how the mall saved their lives when the police kept chasing them. (On Thursday, the mall was shut down.)

Photo: SCMP/Antony Dickson
2. Where to eat

While Pacific Place was the biggest mall in the area, it was not where most protesters ate.

Many could be seen recharging themselves, and their phones, at the McDonald’s adjacent to the usually busy thoroughfare outside the government headquarters.
(Fun fact: it’s the world’s first McDonald’s featuring a premium salad bar, called McDonald’s Next.)
Protesters were probably not drawn to the quinoa salad on offer. It was simply one of the most convenient and affordable options around, in addition to a KFC and a rice noodle joint.
3. The bathroom situation

Given the urban setting of the protests, bathrooms are generally not an issue.

There are plenty of mall and restaurant bathrooms near the demonstration area, in addition to a handful of public ones.
But it’s worth noting that back in 2014, the original organizers of the Occupy Central protests asked male protesters to bring bottles so that they would not compete with women for mobile toilets (and large towels to cover themselves for privacy when they needed it).
Most protesters ended up having little use of that advice, as they took over a much larger swath of the area than planned that gave them access to proper bathrooms.
4. Info wars

Most protesters exchanged information through messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Telegram, and used internet forums.
Some Telegram groups have thousands of members. The app is a key tool in sending and getting information among protesters to coordinate efforts – and dress codes.
People who wanted to participate in the protests also needed to know whether the nearest train station was closed to find the best way to get to the site. Admiralty was shut down for much of the day on Thursday, and was intermittently accessible on Wednesday.

SCMP/Winson Wong
But in terms of coordination on the ground, the protesters did not need a leader to give them instructions.

Many of them had participated in or witnessed the 2014 occupation, aka Umbrella Revolution, and had an almost instinctive sense of where to go and what to do.
They passed umbrellas to frontline protesters so that they could defend themselves against pepper spray. Some set up makeshift first-aid stations to treat those injured. A few protesters were filmed teaming up to put out tear gas canisters with water.
They shouted when the police advanced on them and called for reinforcement. They improvised barriers using everything from trash cans to bamboo sticks to fortify their occupied area. They ran when staying became untenable.
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