The mass protest in Yuen Long ended with some protesters getting clobbered by police officers inside the MTR station, the very spot where an attack by a group of armed men in white t-shirts had sparked the Sunday's protest march.
The police decision to enter the MTR station and attack some protesters with baton was criticised from Human Rights Monitor's director Law Yuk-kai, who said it was unacceptable and unnecessary action by the riot police.
It had only added to the problems, and didn't solve anything, he said.
Police had lobbed tear gas around 10pm to force a few stubborn protesters who had remained after a majority had left, into the MTR Yuen Long station.
The riot police then stormed into the station soon after resulting in what looked like a full pitched battle that lasted around five minutes, with some protesters fighting back with fire extinguishers, water hoses and umbrellas.
Some media workers were also injured in the police action. People at the scene told RTHK that riot officers had suddenly stormed into the station catching people off guard, with many of those caught up in the clashes actually planning to catch trains to go home.
Some of the villagers had also slammed the police earlier, saying that they had fired tear gas in residential areas, causing harm to some elderly people living there.
One resident, surnamed Chen, tear gas went into his home even though the windows were closed. His elderly mother who is an asthma patient had breathing trouble because of this, he said.
Chen criticised the police for not disregarding the safety of the public and firing tear gas bombs near the houses.
But in a late night media briefing, Senior superintendent Yolanda Yu denied this and also said police was forced to act due to the violence unleashed by some protesters.
The police had not given permission to the protest march, saying they feared it would spark clashes between protesters and villagers. But such clashes never occurred as hundreds of thousands arrived at Yuen Long in the pretext of going shopping in the area and holding memorial for former Chinese premier Li Peng.
The huge number of people, mostly clad in black, soon filled the main streets of Yuen Long, in defiance of the police warning of illegal assembly.
One woman surnamed Mak, who works in the medical sector, said she was hanging around with a friend and she was not concerned about her personal safety.
"The protesters here are very peaceful and they just want the government to answer their requests. I think it is safe to walk around," she said.
At one point, a long line formed outside a famous traditional bakery in the area that sells so-called “wife cakes”. But as thousands arrived the gathering became a full blooded march, in complete defiance of the police warning.
The activist who applied for the rally application, Max Chung, said he estimated 288,000 people had taken part in the protest claimed.
But some of the protesters were clearly prepared for trouble. A student who gave his name as Cheng said protesters with protective gears, like helmets, are not looking for revenge over the last Sunday's attacks, but were there to show that the people aren’t afraid of them.
He was critical of the police also. "They have the power to overwhelm us with tear gas, plastic bullets and other things. How come they can't overcome some men with iron rods and wooden sticks?" he asked.
As the march proceeded, it gave way to some tense moments and stand-offs. During one incident a police van was vandalised with graffiti and its windows shattered.
Riot police had confronted large numbers of protesters in multiple locations around the town earlier and tear gas was fired at Castle Peak Road and outside Nam Pin Wai village, where protesters were also pepper sprayed.
A number of pro-democracy lawmakers were present during the protests, with the Democratic Party's Andrew Wan urging officers to stop firing tear gas and allow demonstrators time to leave. The police responded by saying the tear gas would stop when protesters stopped throwing objects at officers.
Later some unruly people smashed a private car which was parked near the Nam Pin Wai village. The village was in focus last week after some of the white shirt clad men had gone there after the MTR station attack.
Reporters at the scene said inside the smashed cars they saw what looked like swords, sticks and a cap that resembled that of mainland security forces.
But by 7.30pm, a majority of the protesters had left Yuen Long, but a determined few hung on, near the MTR station and some near the Nam Pin Wai village.
A group of young protesters were seen arguing with a number of older men who told them they should go home. But the protesters refused, saying they were "prepared to die" on the streets.
Around 10pm, tear gas was once again fired at protesters near the MTR station and that was followed by the storming of the station by officers in riot gear.
The Hospital authority said 23 needed hospitalisation and two of them were in a serious condition.
Police also said they arrested 11 men for offences like unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapon, assaulting police officer and assault. It also said at least four officers were injured during the operation.
Yuen Long rally ends with another bloody MTR clash
2019-07-28 HKT 03:36
Yuen Long rally ends with another bloody MTR clash
The floors of Yuen Long MTR station saw more blood on Sunday. Photo: RTHK
Tear gas had filled the air as police fired several rounds during the operation. Photo: RTHK
The roads of Yuen Long were filled with thousands who defied the police warning of an illegal assembly. Photo: RTHK
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