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Wednesday 21 August 2019

Hong Kong protesters move to shopping district after police fire tear gas

Demonstrators had earlier attacked a police station, appearing to use a home-made sling to hurl bricks and other objects at the building.

Protesters react from tear gas fired by riot policemen (Vincent Thian/AP)
Protesters react from tear gas fired by riot policemen (Vincent Thian/AP)

By Yanan Wang, Associated Press

Demonstrators in Hong Kong have moved en masse to a luxury shopping district after riot police used tear gas to clear out an area they were previously occupying.

Clad in yellow helmets and black face masks, protesters squeezed out of a subway station in Causeway Bay, with a few people directing traffic and others holding open the turnstiles.

Surveillance cameras at the station were covered with black tape and umbrellas as protesters spilled out.

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Protesters at Causeway Bay (Vincent Thian/AP)

Makeshift barricades were also erected in the area, which hosts high-end department stores and upscale restaurants.

The protesters made their move after police fired tear gas – a regular occurrence at the demonstrations – in another district on Hong Kong Island.

But police then used more tear gas on the protesters at Causeway Bay.

The tear gas beat back most of the crowd but some protesters resisted by throwing the canisters back at officers and hurling eggs and other objects.

Some jeered “gangsters” at the police line.

Demonstrators debated whether they could feasibly defend the area or if they should migrate to another district as they had been doing throughout the night.

Some passers-by were caught in the fray and angrily yelled at protesters.

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Protesters use a slingshot to throw bricks at the Tseung Kwan O police station (Vincent Thian/AP)

Earlier in the day, another police station became the target of protesters’ ire as rallies in two different parts of the city converged into one.

Following a rally in the Tseung Kwan O area, some protesters used what appeared to be a long, home-made slingshot to hurl rocks, bricks and other objects at a police station.

They shattered multiple glass windows, authorities said.

Demonstrators elsewhere also began to barricade and block roads.

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A protester throws a brick at the police station (Vincent Thian/AP)

Police said they had arrested more than 20 people for offences including unlawful assembly and assault after protest marches on Saturday devolved into now routine standoffs between protesters and law enforcement.

As has been the pattern during two months of mass pro-democracy demonstrations in the Chinese territory, Sunday’s rallies started off peacefully.

At one park on Hong Kong Island, a flautist and a trumpeter played Do You Hear the People Sing? from the musical Les Miserables, which has become a rallying song for protests.

I feel ashamed because for a long time we didn't do anything Protester Cara Lee

Protesters believe China’s government and the administration of Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam are eroding the civil liberties and political autonomy promised when the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.

“We are not just another Chinese city – we are Hong Kong,” said Cara Lee, 53, an insurance agent who was attending her 13th demonstration.

“I feel ashamed because for a long time we didn’t do anything,” she said.

“But now we are awake. I have to speak out for the next generation. It’s our moral responsibility.”

Police said in a statement on Sunday that they will use a coloured liquid spray to distinguish protesters from other members of the public.

They said the spray is edible and harmless but will stay on skin and clothes as a way of marking demonstrators, and the dye can also be applied to tear gas.

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A protester throws back a tear gas canister during clashes on Saturday (Vincent Thian/AP)

On Saturday, a protest march in the territory’s northern area of Kowloon erupted in clashes with police after some marchers walked off the government-approved route and into separate areas.

Police said some protesters threw petrol bombs, bricks and glass bottles and refused to disperse.

Some blocked streets while others surrounded two different police stations, damaging vehicles parked inside one lot.

Residents in one neighbourhood banded together with protesters and surrounded a police station, yelling at riot police to leave.

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Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam (Vincent Yu/AP)

Protesters are demanding an independent investigation into complaints of police abuse and the government response to an attack in a train station that injured 44 people.

They also want Ms Lam to resign.

Activists have called for a city-wide general strike on Monday.

Hong Kong residents increasingly accuse China’s ruling Communist Party of encroaching on their liberties.

Those fears have been fuelled by the arrests of booksellers and activists in Hong Kong.

During the rally on Saturday, some protesters scaled a flag pole, removed the Chinese flag and flung it into the iconic Victoria Harbour.

Former Hong Kong leader CY Leung offered one million Hong Kong dollars (£105,000) for information about who threw the flag into the water.

The act will provoke “enormous resentment from the entire nation”, he said.

PA Media

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