Hong Kong protesters returned to Yuen Long on Saturday to mark two months since a shocking attack on rail passengers by rod-wielding assailants with links to triad groups.
A peaceful sit-in at the neighbourhood Yoho Mall devolved into street clashes as the night wore on, with protesters throwing Molotov cocktails at police vans and officers firing multiple rounds of tear gas near Castle Peak Road—the town’s main thoroughfare. One man, who was attacked by protesters, appeared to briefly lose consciousness.
Multiple arrests were made, and police were spotted using pepper spray against a well-known elderly activist surnamed Chan, who often attempts to mediate on the frontlines of protests.
Meanwhile, clashes broke out near Mong Kok police station and in Tseung Kwan O after the arrest of a young man sparked outcry from residents.
Officers fired tear gas in the early hours of Sunday to disperse crowds that had gathered outside the Tseung Kwan O police station.
On Saturday, protesters gathered in Yuen Long at around 7pm to mark the two month anniversary of the July 21 mob attacks, where men dressed in white indiscriminately assaulted train passengers and passersby with bamboo sticks and rods.
Hundreds held up protest signs in the connecting shopping mall after the local MTR station had been closed by the rail operator over safety concerns.
Protesters also chanted slogans, sang songs satirising the police, and observed a moment of silence.
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) September 21, 2019
Crowds in the mall sang the protest anthem Glory to Hong Kong—which gained popularity earlier in the month—chanted slogans and observed a moment of silence. “Five demands, not one less,” some shouted.
Other slogans targeted the San Uk Ling Holdings Centre, which protesters derided as the city’s equivalent of a “concentration camp” due to allegations of police abusing arrestees there.
Outside of the mall, protesters set up street barricades and hurled Molotov cocktails shortly before 10pm. At least 100 riot police officers flooded into Yuen Long’s town centre afterwards, firing tear gas and charging with batons.
A team of riot police also threw more than 10 tear gas grenades while retreating back to the neighbourhood police station. Local media reported that officers continued to conduct searches and arrests after midnight.
During a lull in the clashes, protesters reportedly beat up a man accused of sexually assaulting a female paramedic. The man was seen to be bleeding from the head and appeared to briefly lose consciousness, before being escorted away for medical treatment.
HK01 reported that five men were victims of such “acts of vigilantism,” which saw black-clad protesters allegedly confront those with different political opinions.
Some of the men were also reportedly accused of picking fights and vandalising the “Lennon Wall”—the name given to boards containing messages of support of protesters.
Clashes in Tseung Kwan O
Meanwhile, angry crowds surrounded the police station in Tseung Kwan O over the arrest of a young man. Apple Daily reported that officers had arrested two people, aged 13 and 19, after finding laser pointers in their possession.
Hundreds of local residents and onlookers protested the move, and riot police reportedly fired two sponge rounds at around 11pm.
The crowd of roughly 200 surrounded the police station after the arrestees were brought there, and officers fired at least six tear gas rounds shortly before 2am, according to Apple Daily.
Separately, police in Mong Kok used pepper spray against protesters who have gathered to near the Prince Edward MTR station—the site of a police raid on August 31. At the time, Special Tactical Squad officers, known as the “raptors,” charged into train carriages and used pepper spray against those inside.
At around 2:10am, police condemned those involved in the clashes as radical protesters: “Police reiterate that we do not tolerate any violent behaviours,” the statement read. “Police will continue to take resolute enforcement action so as to safeguard the city’s public safety and bring all lawbreakers to justice.”
The multi-district clashes on Saturday marked 16 consecutive weeks of protests in Hong Kong, which was sparked by a soon-to-be-withdrawn extradition bill, which would have allowed case-by-case fugitive transfers to mainland China.
Earlier on Saturday, government supporters heeded a call from pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho to “clean up Hong Kong” by taking down “Lennon Walls” across the city.
In the afternoon, a protest in Tuen Mun against “singing aunties”—accused of disturbing the neighbourhood—also ended in violent clashes between protesters and police.
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