DAVIS (CBS13) – After months of violent protests, huge crowds of people rallied in Hong Kong Monday urging U.S lawmakers to pass a bill that supports the territory’s democratic aspirations.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong conflict is hitting the UC Davis campus as students who support Hong Kong are being met with pushback.
The dark images of protest and violence are sparking a so-called movement on the university campus.
“When I see those images of police being violent to protestors I think, ‘Is my family in that crowd? Are my friends in that crowd?’” said Kimberly, a UC Davis student.
She says the protests are personal. Her grandparents fled to Hong Kong from mainland China as refugees.
“All my mom’s siblings are there, grandmother is there, cousins are there. And some of my cousins [are] actively involved in the protest,” said Kimberly.
She and dozens of other international students from Hong Kong are mobilizing, taking their message to U.S. Representative John Garamendi, and hoping to rally support for a bill that would provide American protections for Hong Kong.
One UC student just returned from protesting in Hong Kong and recalls being tear-gassed by police.
“I can remember that feeling so strong; the tear gas was torturing me; I couldn’t breathe,” said the student who didn’t want to be identified.
“Literally, just a couple weeks ago they were on the front lines, throwing tear gas back at police and now they’re at UC Davis,” said Kimberly.
But these students’ efforts to stand in solidarity with Hong Kong protesters have been met by campus conflict with not-so-happy students from mainland China.
“A mainland supporter came to us, ripped down our Hong Kong flag, screaming at us,” said Kimberly.
She says that despite the pushback, they remain focused on the fight for basic freedoms.
“When you see free speech, our democracy, autonomy of a region being oppressed, you just want to do something,” she said.
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act could be discussed and voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives as early as Tuesday.
Rep. Garamendi says he will be supporting the bill.