Activism – WTO Protests, Hong Kong


My activist alter-ego, the ‘Chicken of Justice’ spent the month leading up to the WTO meeting leafleting around Hong Kong in a chicken suit (blissfully unaware that, in Chinese culture, a chicken represents ‘prostitute’). My actions caused quite ‘a flap’ and led to radio interviews, some TV “appearances” and a quote on the news wires.

activism - WTO Tom in Ming Pao Sing Pao and Ming Pao – click to view

activism - WTO4 activism - WTO5 – Apple Daily and East Touch Magazine, click to view

activism - WTO3 – Apple Daily

Media Hyping…

During the WTO protests, the Hong Kong media reported rumours of mass gas mask purchasing, suicide protests and alleged stolen uniforms. ATV referred to scuffling activists as ‘militants’ and the protest area as a ‘war zone’, whilst TVB used stock footage of violence from previous protests to promote their coverage.

Reporters ignored where most protestors were assembled (by the harbour) and TVB dramatically went live with the reporter donning a crash helmet in front of the riot police. However, she only wore the helmet during the live shot, as apparently instructed by the control room to do – the rest of the crew wore no protection.

In what was a peaceful, verbal direct action, I tried to raise awareness of the distortion to the audience – in the hope of subverting and hijacking the live reports of Hong Kong’s two most powerful TV news outfits. I admit, in retrospect, that my actions may have added to the drama of the live report. However, it was the TV crews themselves which instigated the scuffling seen in the video!

At least the comedy value remains – a 6-foot white chickenman diagonally re-entering shot whilst being rugby tackled is sure to trivialise the broadcast in some way!

activism - WTO6

Prominent law professor and globalization critic Jane Kelsey wrote, “The Hong Kong government is mustering all its propaganda skills to create a climate of fear as the meeting approaches, to justify cracking down on any dissent and keep the substantive issues off the front pages.”

A few days later, Free-to-air CNN, with an audience of millions, ignored the 5000 protesters by the harbour, and thus also found their live shot of the police lines trivialised by an oversized chicken yelling and clucking about their lack of integrity. Minor celebrity anchor, Mike Chinoy, seemed amused yet unimpressed.

‘British activist Tom Grundy, 22, was dressed as a chicken and held a sign that said, WTO: more dangerous than chicken flu.  “We need to raise awareness of the true intentions of the WTO,” he said. “It’s undemocratically elected. It undermines and overrides any law a country wants to bring in to protect workers and the environment.” ‘
– AP – over 100 newspapers worldwide!

“The WTO will undermine the sovereignty and independence of governments by undermining the laws governing workers,” said Tom Grundy, a 22-year-old school teacher from Birmingham, England. “It needs to be totally reformed. If there is to be a WTO, it needs to be based on human rights.” Grundy, marching in a yellow chicken suit, was carrying a sign that read: “WTO: More dangerous than birdflu.”
– Bloomberg

The foes of globalization – media-seducing protesters in Victoria Park wearing chicken suits with placards that say, “WTO: More Dangerous Than Bird Flu,” and high-decibel groups like Oxfam, which accuses developed nations of “robbery against the world’s poor” – understand the moral and emotional dimension well. That’s one reason they have been so successful.
– Comment from Scripps Howard News Service

Dressed in a chicken suit, protester Tom Grundy, 22, a teacher from Birmingham, England, said, “There was a sudden bang. I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was just a smoke screen or something, and then everyone started running.
– AP again – picked up by around 10 newspapers globally.

Tom Grumby, from Birmingham, said that he had come dressed up as a chicken “because the WTO is more dangerous than avian flu”. He added: “The authorities have created a climate of fear and the majority of people are peaceful.”
The Independent mishearing my name.

…Tom is dressing as a chicken and giving out leaflets…
– East Touch Magazine (magazine article translated from Cantonese)

The Hong Kong People’s Alliance Against the WTO sent out a chicken
– Apple Daily (newspaper caption translated from Cantonese)

Yesterday he was dressed as a chicken – he was a warrior…He kept on making chicken sounds throughout the march… With fluent Cantonese, he led protesters to shout against the WTO… His outfit attracted support from the Filipino maid community who fought against each other to have a photo with him…
– Economic Daily Post – newspaper feature translated from Putonghua

El activista británico Tom Grundy llevaba un disfraz de pollo y portaba un cartel que decía “OMC: más peligrosa que la gripe aviar”.
– some South American rag, loving the “activista britanico”!

In reference to the chicken vs. helmet saga…

“This is causing a major uproar in the websites and forums… because it cuts right to the heart of media hyping.”
– Curbside Indymedia

The TVB reporter was wearing a helmet. Why? Nevermind the fashion faux pas (that coat, that headgear), this was an egregious and flagrant example of media hype
Mister Bijou Blog

…but the best thing so far is the Chicken vs. Helmet incident… absolutely nothing was going on and the protests were totally peaceful. Then the Chicken got into it…
– Kaiju Shakedown Blog

…there was TVB’s assault (strictly, speaking a battery) on “Chicken Man” Tom Grundy (hmmm … battery chicken – that’s rather good) because he objected to their right to misrepresent the news, and their insistence (both their English and Canto stations) on having their reporters wear helmets even before yesterday’s events in order to give the impression of danger when there was none.
– Fumier Blog

a fellow who wears a chicken suit to demonstrations (naturally, the press has dubbed him “Chicken Man”) made a big splash at last week’s WTO protests for waving a sign that said “WTO Is Worse Than Bird Flu.” Blog

Thanks to some anonymous guy in a chicken suit for delivering some well deserved embarassment to our local gossip hound reporters.
– Laowai Blog

…let me tell you that I cannot believe how excited the response to The Television Reporter’s Helmet was… we have had all sorts of complaints about media inaccuracies and biases. But nothing struck people like the photograph of the TVB reporter putting on a helmet when there was no imminent danger whatsoever…
EastSouthWestNorth Blog

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