Over 10,000 Thai pro-democracy protesters are proving they are smarter than the government and police as they moved tonight’s planned protest from Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong intersection to the Pathum Wan intersection within minutes of it about to begin.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of regular police and anti-riot police were bused into Bangkok from the provinces. Groups of them then went into action blocking off Ratchaprasong intersection so protesters could not gather there.
Thai pro-democracy protesters had said yesterday though that future protests would be surprise ‘flash mobs’, meaning the police and government would have no idea where they would pop up next.
Today, they carried out that threat by moving the Friday night protest to the Pathum Wan intersection, ignoring the government’s ban on gatherings of more than five people, and announcing the move only a few minutes before it was about to begin.
At almost 7:30 pm Bangkok time, thousands of young Thai pro-democracy activists were congregated in the intersection and police in anti-riot gear were amassed a five-minute walk from the area.
The police officer in charge told Pravit Rojanaphruk, the Khaosod English reporter covering the protests, they were “getting ready to move” towards the protesters.
A few minutes later several lines of police in riot gear and carrying shields slowly moved towards them ,while the current Emergency Decree was read out and the crowd was told to “go home”.
A large what-Thai-police-call a ‘crowd protection’ truck, and is actually an armored truck the Thai police purchased from South Korea, was also moved towards the protesters.
The vehicle is capable of seriously injuring or killing protesters with water cannons, metal teeth around its front and sides, and the ability to shoot tear gas into a crowd.
Meanwhile, blasts of water cannons have already been directed at the protesters and tear gas has been shot into the midst of the crowd. Protesters who, for the most part, are 18-25 years-of-age or younger.
For updates on the tense and ever-changing situation at the Pathum Wan protest site, watch the exceptional live coverage currently being streamed by Pravit Rojanaphruk and his cameraman in the video below.