Since Hong Hong was handed over to the Republic of China from Great Britain in 1997, its citizens have steadfastly been losing the civil liberties they once cherished.

That is why more than a thousands citizens gathered outside a Dolce & Gabbana store on Sunday with cameras to protest against security guards who forbid a man from taking photos from a public sidewalk earlier in the week.

The protesters forced the Italian luxury clothes store to shutdown for a few hours as police were deployed to quell the crowd.

If only we did that in the United States.

The protests was spurred by the fact that store security guards permitted foreigners and mainland Chinese citizens to take pictures, just not local Hong Kong residents.

Despite this obvious discrimination against locals, Dolce & Gabbana officials proclaimed they were merely protecting their intellectual property, even though the photos were taken from a public sidewalk.

According to the Wall Street Journal

Why the company’s security drew the line between local Hong Kongers and mainland tourists is not exactly clear, but some have speculated it has less to do with copyright infringement and more to with placating high-rollers from China.

According to other reports, including this one from the Hong Kong Standard, a “well-known mainlander, possibly a government official” was shopping in the store and complained to D&G of photos taken from the street, fearing that they would be posted online and link his shopping trip to corruption.

While some have called the incident an overreaction, academics say that the large turnout on Sunday underscores the continuing struggle among Hong Kongers to protect against infringements to freedoms and rights they are afforded as a special administrative region of China.

“Since the city’s handover to China in 1997, Hong Kong people have faced a lot of setbacks in their fight for democracy and freedom. As there is no universal suffrage and other political rights, they cling very hard on to what is left for them, such as the fundamental right to enjoy public space,” said Chung Kim-wah, director of Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Centre for Social Policies Studies.