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Traders staff the grill for hungry Hong Kong protesters

Four traders from New York-based brokerage BGC Partners turned up at pro-democracy protests here Monday night to grill more than 2,000 sausages for the hungry demonstrators. On Tuesday they planned to return with more colleagues and eight clients.

Daniel Shepherd, 32, the firm’s head of Asia derivatives, said he wanted to help the protesters, who weren’t eating properly. They were facing down tear gas and pepper spray after protests for free elections that began Sept. 26 escalated into a police crackdown two days later.

“It was pretty much all kids sitting around, eating whatever they were given: crackers, bananas. And some of the kids are there three days already,” said Shepherd, who with three colleagues spent about HK$20,000 ($2,600) buying sausages and other supplies for the grill they took to the protest site.

BGC is headed by Howard Lutnick and part-owned by his Cantor Fitzgerald, which suffered the biggest loss of life of any Wall Street firm in the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, losing more than 60 percent of its 960 employees.

“After the Sept. 11 event, we’ve learned how to help people who are in difficulties. We will try to do as much as we can,” he said.

Shepherd and his colleagues got friends and neighbors to chip in with donations. They started grilling around 7 p.m.; the food ran out at 12:45 a.m. Tuesday. The group found strong support among clients and planned to return with eight of them, plus several more colleagues, to do it again, he said.

“Sausage is easy and relatively cheap,” he said.

Protesters continued to block roads in Hong Kong in the fifth day of pro-democracy demonstrations as their leaders warned the standoff would escalate if their demands, including free elections in 2017 and the resignation of the city’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, aren’t met.

The Hong Kong government has called for calm as China warned the international community not to interfere. The gatherings – spurred by China’s decision last month that candidates for the 2017 leadership election must be vetted by a committee – pose one of the biggest challenges President Xi Jinping has faced since he became head of the Communist Party two years ago.

The city’s benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 1.3 percent at the close today after sliding 1.9 percent yesterday, the biggest two-day drop since February.

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