Thousands poured onto the streets of the New Territories’ residential town of Tseung Kwan O on Sunday in another mass display of anger against Hong Kong authorities.
The demonstration escalated in the latter part of the day, as activists hurled bricks through the windows of the local police station, prompting officers to emerge with dogs.
The crowd left Po Tsui Park at 2pm chanting their five demands including “withdraw the evil law” and “retract the ‘riot’ characterisation,” en route to the Hong Kong Velodrome Park. Protesters are demanding the authorities stop describing recent protests as riots, as those convicted of rioting can face a decade behind bars.
The crowd, many of whom were families with children, also called for an independent inquiry into alleged police misconduct. They voiced criticism of media bias and called for the unconditional release of all detained protesters as well as universal suffrage.
The rally came a day after a tense showdown in Kowloon where enraged protesters and residents clashed with police after wildcat road occupations broke out at the end of a largely peaceful march. More than 20 people were arrested during Saturday and the early hours of Sunday for offences such as unlawful assembly and assault.
Apart from focusing on the extradition bill and police brutality, Tseung Kwan O march organiser Ng Wai-hang said that Sunday's protest is also against alleged pro-Beijing bias in the media.
The headquarters of major broadcaster TVB are located in Tseung Kwan O.
Photo: InMedia. pic.twitter.com/Vsujzrtp9Z
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) August 4, 2019
At around 3pm, marchers spilt onto the adjacent street on Po Lam Road, blocking traffic.
As the group passed Tseung Kwan O District Police Station, which had water-filled barriers erected around it earlier, protesters hurled insults at several police officers stationed on the roof, shouting “Hong Kong police knowingly break the law” and “Shame on the corrupt police.”
At roughly 3:30pm, a government statement announced that the police station’s report room services were temporarily suspended while appealing to members of the public not to obstruct emergency vehicles.
Just before 6pm, officers emerged from Tseung Kwan O District Police Station with dogs after protesters pelted the building with eggs and bricks, smashing its windows.
A government statement released after 6pm said protesters had hurled “miscellaneous objects” and daubed the police station with paint: “Police warn the protestors to stop their illegal acts at once and to leave peacefully,” it read.
Shortly before 5pm, another government statement condemned protesters for removing road railings and setting up barricades on Mau Yip Road near Po Lam MTR station.
“Police warn the protestors concerned to stop the obstruction and other illegal acts,” it read. “Protestors are advised to respect others’ rights while expressing their views.”
Several large black banners reading “liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times” and “withdraw the evil law,” were draped over an overpass on Po Ning Road.
Across the harbour, another group geared up for a separate protest at 5pm in Belcher Bay Park in Kennedy Town.
Police issued letters of no objection to both events on Sunday but warned against a “breach of peace” by “potential dissidents.”
The demonstrations anticipate a planned city-wide strike on Monday which is set to bring transport and labour services to a halt in no less than seven districts — Tuen Mun, Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan, Wong Tai Sin, Tai Po, Mong Kok and Admiralty.
As the city enters its ninth consecutive week of protests sparked by the government’s now-suspended extradition bill, tensions have flared over the police’s use of crowd control measures, which has been criticised as excessive.
Meanwhile, public anger has been intensified by a wave of violence which saw a mob suspected of having links to triads attack commuters in Yuen Long on July 15, as well as fireworks shot at protesters in Tin Shui Wai last Tuesday.
Tseung Kwan O-based pastor Christine Tam, 29, told HKFP she decided to join Sunday’s march in order to raise awareness about the extradition bill crisis in communities outside of Hong Kong Island.
“It’s important the protests are not confined to one area,” she said. “We are using the most peaceful way to voice our opinion and spread the message.”
Winter Chen, a Tseung Kwan O resident and social worker in her 40s, told HKFP she is furious with the government’s handling of the crisis and has attended at least 20 protests about the controversial extradition bill.
“We are so angry because the government hasn’t done anything and leaves the police to tackle the problem. It is a political problem,” she said.
First-time march volunteers Ryan Wong and Alan Mo, who were distributing posters, told HKFP they were driven to join Sunday’s Tseung Kwan O protest after viewing footage of what they described as excessive use of force by the police.
Wong, a Wong Tai Sin resident, said he was previously not involved in the anti-extradition law movement until he witnessed the clashes between police, residents and protesters on his doorstep on Saturday night.
“I went downstairs and saw the police use teargas in a really residential area where there are lots of elderly [people],” he said. “I think the police are really unreasonable.”
While Mo said he joined after an appeal for volunteers was made on messaging app Telegram.
At the endpoint of the march, a television was set up playing looped footage of the Yuen Long mob attacks and other instances of alleged police brutality.