The main reason I’m posting these photos is because I’ve seen and read news reports that made it sound as if Occupy Taipei, which took place on Oct. 15, disrupted commerce at Taipei 101, forcing stores to shutdown as “scuffles” broke out between the police and protestors. I was there from noon to 3pm, when the protest ended as scheduled, and that is completely not true.
The protestors first marched in a single-file line around Taipei 101, chanting slogans like “Jobs for all! Student aid for all!” before gathering at the mall’s Shifu Rd entrance. At that point, all exterior doors to the mall were locked for about 5 minutes as organizers and mall security guards talked. After the entrances were open, protestors slowly started filtering in, some joking that they just wanted to go shopping. A few started chanting, but were quickly asked to stop by security, leaving to a brief verbal argument between one protestor and several security guards. By that time, a group of protestors had gathered near the Dior cosmetics store on the ground floor to sit down and listen to speeches. I don’t agree with their decision to go into the mall, which is private property, but the organizers were conscientious about making sure shoppers were left undisturbed and reminded protestors that security guards and shop workers “are just like us, they are trying to make money.” A few stores rolled down their gates for a few minutes, but rolled them back up again. The Dior cosmetic store’s front entrance was open and unobstructed (though the store’s security guard was posted at the front). If anyone had wanted to walk in and purchase a Dior Skinflash Radiance Booster concealer pen, they certainly would have been able to. I saw several tour groups pass by and the participants either looked confused or amused. If anything, the protest certainly gave them some good photo-ops.
Also, I’m all for capitalism and spending money on nice things you don’t need to survive, but while I was hanging out in Taipei 101, it did strike me as ironic that the building seen as a symbol of this country is filled mostly with stores selling stuff that the average Taiwanese person cannot afford. Even a KFC meal costs more than many people (including entry-level staffers in a 7-Eleven) make in an hour. Before anyone runs off and forks over the equivalent of what an average Taiwanese person earns per month on a designer handbag, I suggest they read Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas. Have some spare cash? Support some local brands and independently operated stores instead!