Hong Kong saw its tenth consecutive week of social unrest as protesters defied police bans by descending on multiple districts, with scores of people arrested in police clearance operations.
Clashes erupted on Sunday among thick plumes of tear gas as riot police pushed protesters back in Sham Shui Po, Cheung Sha Wan and Tsim Sha Tsui, in a repeat of the cat-and-mouse scenes the day before.
In Kwai Fong, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets within the local MTR station in order to clear protesters.
The city has been roiled by over two months of protests related to a now-suspended extradition bill.
The demonstrations have often seen wildcat street occupations, culminating in police clearance operations involving tear gas. Meanwhile, protesters have directed their anger towards government officials over their handling of the political crisis, as well as the police for alleged misconduct related to the use of crowd control measures.
Police have attempted to restrict protests for the past three weekends, converting some anti-extradition law marches into stationary rallies and prohibiting other similar events altogether.
Police use tear gas against protesters gathered outside the Tsim Sha Tsui police station, but some protesters threw the canisters back.#HongKong #china #antiELAB https://t.co/kmLJLFCnSX pic.twitter.com/MC8PoVjann
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) August 11, 2019
Sunday began peacefully as hundreds, including families with children, gathered in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay for a rally approved by police. It was set to last from 1pm to 5pm as two large banners were unfurled near the stage stating “with bitter sadness in our hearts” and “Withdraw the evil law” – one of five demands made by protesters.
An earlier plan to march east to Quarry Bay was banned because its path would take protesters near “high-risk locations” such as police stations and government offices, Senior Superintendent Jim Ng said at a daily press briefing. The police had reason to believe the locations will become targets for attack, he added.
A spokesperson for the organisers, Hannah Yu, said the aim of the rally was to provide citizens, who do not participate in unapproved gatherings, a platform to express their grievance.
“I understand that even with the disapproval of the police, there will still be citizens who go out onto the street to protest but we cannot control them,” she told HKFP. “Our [responsibility] is to make sure everyone here is safe and our rally can go on as peacefully as it can.”
Separately, thousands marched in Sham Shui Po despite a police ban on the gathering.
But area quickly became a site of conflict when protesters erected makeshift road barriers. Police fired multiple volleys of tear gas into the crowd and swept through making several arrests.
Shortly after, as night fell, protesters besieged Tsim Sha Tsui police station, hurling projectiles, including bricks at the building.
As police began firing tear gas from the station, local shoppers and residents fled, as shops closed and southbound traffic came to a halt.
In total, police fired over 100 tear gas grenades – one of which hit and injured a medic – as protesters used wok lids and pans to douse the cannister or hurl them back into the police station.
Some protesters used slingshots, as another was spotted with a gun-like device capable of shooting projectiles.
An HKFP reporter counted no less than a dozen being arrested on Nathan Road during the clearance operation.
As protesters scattered towards the east, police secured the tourist thoroughfare as residents hurled abuse at frontline officers.
In North Point, men dressed in red have physically assaulted passersby and journalists. Some wore t-shirts that read “my father is Fujianese” on the front with and showed an obscenity on the back. Police apprehended at least two of the men afterwards.
The district is home to a large community of Fujianese people who migrated from mainland China in the 1960s. Last Monday, unidentified men attacked anti-extradition law protesters in the area with wooden sticks. The violent street battle saw demonstrators push back against the men, using traffic cones and street signs as weapons.
As the night wore on, multiple arrests were made at Tai Koo MTR station.
More to follow.