Chief Executive Carrie Lam has hit out at protesters who charged into the Legislative Council building, accusing them of being "violent and lawless" and of undermining the rule of law.
In a hastily-arranged 4am press conference at police headquarters, her first meeting with the media in two weeks, Lam drew a contrast between the occupation of the Legislative Council building on Monday night and the mass protest march organised by the Civil Human Rights Front.
"We have seen two entirely different public scenes," Lam said of the day's events. "One is a regular march on July 1. Regardless of the number of participants in the march, the march was peaceful and generally orderly. This fully reflects the inclusiveness of Hong Kong society, and the core values we attach to peace and order.
"The second scene that really saddens and shocks a lot of people, is the violence and vandalism by protesters who stormed into the Legislative Council building. This is something that we should seriously condemn, because nothing is more important than the rule of law in Hong Kong."
She said she hoped society would "return to normal" as soon as possible.
She said it was "not true to say the government had not responded" to the protesters' demands, but said she had "good reason" not to react to all demands. She said the extradition bill that sparked the protests of the last month had been put on hold and would expire next year.
She said declaring an amnesty for protesters, as many groups have demanded, would not be in accordance with the rule of law.
She failed to answer questions about protesters who had pledged to die for the cause, and the deaths of three people who fell from height in recent weeks.
Police Commissioner Stephen Lo was asked why his officers were not defending Legco when protesters entered the building. Earlier, large numbers of police in riot gear had been inside Legco.
He said officers had defended the building for eight hours in the face of "violent tactics" by the protesters. He said police staged a retreat, in part because police would be unable to use usual levels of force due to the terrain, and because some protesters had tampered with the lights.
He also said protesters had made an attack with "toxic powder" and his officers were concerned by the sight of smoke, forcing a "temporary retreat" from Legco.
Last updated: 2019-07-02 HKT 04:56