A spontaneous group mourning took place at Tianfu Square at 2:28 p.m. on May 12 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake. Photo by Julien Rideller for GoChengdoo.
A group of several hundred mourners gathered at Tianfu Square shortly before 2:28 on Tuesday to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake.
At 2:26, one attendee led an impromptu chant of "Sichuan, jiayou, Zhongguo jiayou" ("Sichuan, come on; China, come on!")
Holding small Chinese flags, the crowd pumped their fists in the air as they chanted along.
A middle-aged woman burst into tears, and a dozen photographers immediately swarmed around her.
Photo by Michal Pachniewski for GoChengdoo.
Small clusters of police lined the perimeter of the public square. As the minutes passed, the crowd grew larger, and so did police presence.
At 2:28, a citizen led another chant and song, and then urged the people to stage a march around the square. Hundreds more people joined as the human snake weaved its way around the fountains and sculptures of the plaza, which is positioned about what will be the central subway station when the first line opens up next year.
Carrying small Chinese flags, the mourners made a march around the square chanting slogans of encouragement for Sichuan and China! Photo by Michal Pachniewski for GoChengdoo.
Most participants looked to be middle-class citizens in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. Some carried white flowers. One young man held a large Chinese flag and when the march congregated into a mass, he was lifted up so that he could waved it high above the crowd. A group of Hubei citizens waved a banner to show their solidarity with Sichuan.
When a pair of foreign journalists began to interview attendees, a swarm of photographers and video cameras turned their attention there.
No official announcement had been made of a public mourning period so today's action at Tianfu Square was organized by citizens and grew organically. Last year, the state announced a national three-minute mourning period to take place on May 19, exactly one week after the quake. On that day, Tianfu Square was packed with people, and traffic on the streets halted as drivers blasted their horns and official alarms sounded.
This year's gathering at Tianfu Square was much smaller, and life on the streets carried on as usual. The congregation started to disperse only one hour after it began as uniformed military personnel and armed police started patrolling the square.