How four deaths turned Hong Kong’s protest movement dark

Updated 6:21 AM EDT, Mon July 22, 2019
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(CNN) —  

On a hot summer night earlier this month, a few thousand people gathered in Hong Kong to honor a 28-year-old woman who many of them had never met.

Under the glow of Hong Kong’s harbor-side Ferris wheel, they lit candles, sang songs, and left messages to her on colorful Post-it notes, calling her “brave.”

“We will accomplish what is left to be done,” wrote one.

The death of the woman – known to most of the world by her last name, Mak – was the fourth suspected suicide to be connected by local media to ongoing demonstrations, sparked initially by a controversial extradition bill that many feared could further limit freedoms in the semi-autonomous city.

The bill has been suspended, but over a period of just a few months the movement has developed into something bigger – and darker. Some demonstrations – including one on Sunday night – have ended in aggression, with protesters using metal barricades to charge police, and police firing rounds of tear gas to disperse protesters.