On August 13, thousands of citizens in the northeast city of Dalian set to the streets to demand the removal of a nearby toxic chemical plant. China’s microblogging services lit up with commentary and images from the scene.

2011 年八月十三日,数以万计的大连市民们为了移除泄露毒物的大连福佳石油化工场而走上街头。 网民们的言语评论和现场照片缀亮了新浪微博。

Thousands of Dalian citizens set to the streets on August 13, 2011, demanding the removal of a nearby toxic chemical plant. The protest was one of the largest mass gatherings in China in recent years, and prompted city officials to promise the facility’s immediate closure. Operated by Fujia Chemical (大连福佳大化石油化工有限公司), the US$1.5 billion plant produces paraxylene (PX), a toxic substance used in the production of polyester and plastics. A typhoon earlier in the week had damaged the plant’s exterior walls, prompting public concern over the facility’s safety.

China’s microblogs lit up with news of the protest as thousands of participants posted pictures, videos and commentary. Below is a collection of images and comments on the Dalian protests posted by Chinese internet users on Weibo and Renren. (Note: many of the comments below have since been removed from their original sites)

People of Dalian, follow us and walk! People of Dalian, let’s go together! We have arrived at Zongshan Square. -刘鹏

少数失去理智的暴民的打砸行为让人遗憾 不过 作为一名现场亲历者 我看到更多的是人群密密麻麻的站在马路上而留出绿地 我收到更多的是免费派发的矿泉水 面包 饼干 我接触更多的是义务拾捡垃圾的美女 偌大的广场 没有一个烟头 没有一个随地吐痰 这TM就四大连银!这TM才四大连银的素质.
The acts of a small number of violent protesters are regrettable. However, as a protester on the spot, I see more citizens standing on the road instead of on the grass. I see more citizens giving out water, bread and biscuits for free. I see more beautiful ladies picking up trashes others left behind. There are no cigarette butts on the ground of this huge plaza. No one spit on the ground. These are the (TM=expletive) Dalian people! This is the morality of Dalian people. –小豌豆踢出传奇

We are from the same province and city, how dare you brutally hit us. We did not go against the government or the party, is it that we do not have the right to protect our life and survival? Liaoning special police, do you have kids? Do you have brothers and sisters, and when they are beaten and sent to the hospital operating room, tell me, what did they do.-孙晓美

回复朱朗铨: 目前我感觉可能是在广场之外的某条道路上,来自沈阳的特警和大连当地的游行者发生了小规模冲突。如果要分析原因,可能大连的民众对外地特警无好感,而外地特警也对大连民众无耐心
Currently I feel like it is possible that some people gathered in the streets, and Shenyang police and Dalian locals were involved in a small conflict. If asked for a reason, I think it might be that Dalian citizens do not like polices from other places, and that these police don’t have patience for Dalian people. – 龚知宇

RT @RFA_Mandarin: 大连万人反PX不欢而散 政府紧控舆论恐各地效仿: 大连周日万人上街抗议PX项目,据称警方暴力清场,而相关与媒体报道和网络舆论被压。有外媒消息指,该项目并未如政府承诺停产. http://rrurl.cn/7jA3n5
Dalian’s Anti-PX protest of ten thousand citizens ended on bad terms. Government tightly controlled public opinion and kept it from spreading to other areas. On Sunday, ten thousand Dalian citizens went onto the streets to protest the PX project. Reports say police forces violently cleared the area. Other media are being forced to do the same. Foreign media reports that the project has not yet stopped as the government promised. –仇程beta1.0 [This is a repost of a Radio Free Asia report]

What an unlucky mayor….has been at his post for less than a month… –吴俊颉

[“散步”须知] 扯一句题外话。如果在“散步”过程中,遇到某些情绪异常激动,明显有挑事倾向的个人或团体,请格外警惕。如突然向警察或建筑投石子、谩骂等。此类人士可能系混入“散步”队伍的破坏分子(冲突双方都有可能),背后有“长毛”的人。这些人的出现会使警察动武更趋合理
{“Take a walk” (to march/protest) notice} Allow me to say some extra words. During your “walk”, should you meet any emotional and agitated individuals or groups that trying to stir up trouble, be very cautious. They might suddenly throw rocks at police or buildings. These people may sneak into the protest and sabotage (coming from both sides), “long hair” people (historical reference to the Taiping rebels). The appearance of those people will rationalize police’s use of force. -凤凰周刊胡佳恒

@jim_大叔:妈的你们终于动手了,差点造成踩踏,妈的要是伤了我老婆就和你们拼了 //@bigice1105三世://@fruit_akis:从现场逃了出来,现场使用了催泪弹
Damn, you’ve finally used force, almost causing a trampling. If you hurt me, my wife will hurt you. //@bigice1105三世://@fruit_akis:I ran away from the spot, they are using tearing gas. –监利农民

We still lack the practice of nonviolent protest, if those pictures are real. If nonviolent and order fail in our citizen movement, we are providing excuses for the government to crackdown. –彭晓芸

Our citizens are truly respectable and righteous. – 刘何涛

This is the end of today’s news broadcast, thank you for tuning in. –One last thing, remain skeptical. Wait for more information to gradually come out, do not blindly believe and blindly judge. I despise the rumor Party, but also offer advice to fellow skeptical students. The fact that you don’t understand does not mean it did not happen. Leave possibilities to possibilities, leave unknown to unknown. -龚知宇

Armed Police and special police have gone into battle, they are hitting people! The are beating to death. I almost got dragged away….almost…I threw a water bottle at a police officer. (Expletive) police are hitting people. (Expletive) serve the people. Damn the harmonious society. – 小豌豆踢出传奇

I walked around my own garden twice and returned safely. All sorts of neighbor are urging me not to go further into the crowds. Rumor says that all the violators are police undercover. Damn, They really do hit to kill. The ones in uniform are functioning as a wall! Everybody is leaving for home. P.S. We have to take care of ourselves if we want to win the revolution! – 莉Queen

One might never understand that kind of fear if not at the spot of protest. One might never know what is hopeless if they did not break one’s head and spill one’s blood. The ones who only believe in news will never believe this as the truth. Their question will always be: “why do they protest”. Instead of “why do they hit people?” Is it to prove that the ones that got hit deserved to be punished? Yes I have sinned. I fear that face-identification camera. I thought about kneeling and cry, and cry that I will never do it again. Please give me mercy. –刘鹏

Hold it, they did not use tanks and machine guns….don’t show off too much….remember to stop when one’s ahead; go home and watch movies at night, solve problems during the day, also don’t fight with army and police, all are our Xiaonei friends (Xiaonei is previous name of Renren website), and have kids, some of them might even leave comments (on Renren) about your beatuy…-龚知宇

The comments below were left on the Dalian Police’s Weibo page:

昨天是警民是多么的和谐 没有警察哪来现在的稳定 学生是容易被坏人挑唆的 不要觉得外国就民主 就不会伤害人民 任何民主背后都有强大的势力在支撑着 年轻热血可以理解 但需要彼此尊重 警察是为人民服务的 人民也要理解.
Police and citizen were so harmonious yesterday. We wouldn’t have the stability if no police were there. Students are easily incited by bad people. Don’t think other countries are democratic and that they do not hurt citizens. For every democracy there is a strong organization holding it. It is understandable for young people to be warm-blooded, but they have to learn mutual respect. Police serve people, therefore people should understand.-Evangeline伊文捷琳

I saw an undercover police officer standing at the crossroad. An angered young girl wanted to break in; this police hit her and dragged her…. –幸运的老灰灰

Truth will become brighter as we debate. First of all, Dalian’s police are human beings. How can they not to be humanist? Also, It is not the low-level staff who decide what to do. Putting oneself in another’s place, both them and us face uneasy scenarios. We should forgive each other. -吉祥百合

The Dalian Police force’s behavior yesterday proved them to be the people’s police, especially when they are attacked by water bottles. Their behavior embodies the highest quality. –红军005

Haha, No one wants to see a state of turmoil. Only want the government to listen to us peasants and give us an explanation. Isn’t this your aspirations too? Dalian is also your home. Lets try to understand each other. – 谭宝宝shmily

The Dalian Police Weibo account sent out the message below on August 15 about a news report on the Fujia plant’s imminent closure. The message received hundreds of responses, both positive and negative (some noted above). The Dalian Police responded to many of the comments with simple emoticons.

: 大连决定福佳大化PX项目立即停产并搬迁 http://t.cn/aENL7g
Dalian has decided Fujia PX project will cease immediately and move out of the city. –大连公安 Dalian Police Weibo account

User XKZDL expresses admiration for the Dalian police and their conduct during the events. Dalian Police respond with a “handshake” emoticon.

User 红军005 posts that the police truly serve the people. User 小兔大夫 notes their civilized actions. Dalian Police respond with “handshake” and “thumbs-up” emoticons.

User Hello土小姐 complains that the Dalian Police deleted his/her comment. “Cannot say you all are bad, I know you are bound by duty.  I’m furious because the police beat people, beat innocent people.” The Dalian Police responded with a “wagging finger” emoticon.