Protests held in solidarity with the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong are spreading worldwide, including in Toronto, where a demonstration at tonight's season opener might actually eclipse the Raptors' first game.
More than 7,000 free t-shirts with the words "The North Stand With Hong Kong" will be passed out to attendees of the Raps vs. New Orleans Pelicans game tonight at the Scotiabank Arena as an act of solidarity with Hong Kongers.
A local group called Torontonian HongKongers Action Group, which first created a GoFundMe page to raise $28,000 for shirt printing last week, will start handing out the t-shirts before the gates open.
Take our Free T-shirt and show your support. Will be available at entrances. See you soon!!! #FreedomOfSpeech #FreeHongKong #WeTheChamps #WeTheNorth #TheNorth #StandWithHongKong https://t.co/ep9BF7Zx5M— THKAG_CAN (@THKAG_CAN) October 22, 2019
The group has since raised more than $34,000, and according to a group organizer Mimi Lee, they now have enough t-shirts for about one-third of the stadium's audience tonight.
"We want the fans to wear it so it can be seen on TV broadcasts all around the world, showing that NBA fans are standing for freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and refusing Chinese interference," said Lee.
Tonight's protest in Toronto will happen simultaneously with L.A.'s demonstration at the Staples Center, where close to $43,000 was raised for their "Stand With Hong Kong" t-shirts, which will be distributed at the Clippers vs. Lakers game this evening.
It also follows on the tail of a similar protest at the Nets vs. Raptors game at the Barclays Centre last Friday, where producer Andrew Duncan bought hundreds of tickets for supporters of Hong Kong and the Free Tibet movements.
Toronto Raptors fans. Get ready for our tshirts. To be distributed tonight for FREE (thanks to our funding contributors 🥰)#Toronto #Raptors #NBA #OpeningNight #antiELAB #WeTheNorth #TheNorth #StandWithMorey #StandWithHongKong #hongkong #FreedomOfSpeech #FreeHongKong pic.twitter.com/p6mQEuYq2w— THKAG_CAN (@THKAG_CAN) October 22, 2019
The NBA has been embroiled in China-related drama since early this month, when a tweet of support for Hong Kong protestors from Houston Rockets manager Darly Morey resulted in several suspended sponsorships from Chinese firms.
In the aftermath, a statement from LeBron James resulted in a public outcry from the streets of Hong Kong which involved some jersey burning.
Lee says that the group will be arriving at the Scotiabank Arena around 4 p.m., with more than 100 volunteers distributing shirts.
by Tanya Mok via blogTO