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Clashes drag on as police fail to clear the streets

2019-11-02 HKT 22:39
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  • Clashes drag on as police fail to clear the streets
  • A Starbucks coffee shop is seen vandalised after protesters left the scene in Sheung Wan. Photo: AFP
    A Starbucks coffee shop is seen vandalised after protesters left the scene in Sheung Wan. Photo: AFP
  • Police advanced northwards along Nathan Road on Saturday night. Photo: RTHK
    Police advanced northwards along Nathan Road on Saturday night. Photo: RTHK
  • Riot police clashed with protesters in Causeway Bay from early afternoon until late in the evening. Photo: RTHK
    Riot police clashed with protesters in Causeway Bay from early afternoon until late in the evening. Photo: RTHK
  • Fires were set at many an MTR exit on Saturday. Photo: RTHK
    Fires were set at many an MTR exit on Saturday. Photo: RTHK
Yet another day of violence in Hong Kong continued well into Saturday night, with police clashing for hours with pockets of protesters in multiple locations on both sides of the harbour.

The day's protests began in Causeway Bay where thousands of people gathered in and around Victoria Park under the pretext of meeting pro-democracy district council election candidates.

There were no signs of any actual campaigning, however, and the move was to try to get round a ban on a protest rally in the park. The ploy didn't work, and while officers were busy firing tear gas at demonstrators who had marched to Wan Chai, others shot gas at those who had tried to barricade themselves inside the park.

The protesters streamed out of other sides of the park, but reports said some of the election candidates who stayed put were arrested.

Persistent demonstrators who refused to be cleared from Hennessy Road and Johnston Road in Wan Chai brushed off volley after volley of tear gas, as well as blasts of water cannon, as they threw bricks and other objects at the police.

Shops and banks deemed to be pro-Beijing were trashed, and the office of Xinhua News Agency took a battering, with the doors and windows smashed and a small fire set in the lobby.

But officers made a lot of arrests, with some of those caught clearly in pain from the tear gas fired at them. Many people were trapped by officers at Southorn Playground, with some of those arrested held there for hours.

The chaos later spread to Central where police ordered an end to two authorised rallies as demonstrators lobbed Molotov cocktails at officers and set fire to MTR station exits.

Multiple rounds of tear gas in the area hit not just protesters but also passers-by, drinkers in bars, and at least one firefighter trying to put out a blaze.

Meanwhile, trouble was brewing in Tsim Sha Tsui, where hundreds had joined an authorised singing protest rally on Nathan Road. Some participants taunted the police officers threatening them with arrest for wearing masks, and there were arguments and scuffles with passers-by.

Later in the evening, violence erupted in this tourist area too, with dozens of riot officers charging at people and making arrests.

Residents also quarrelled with police in Jordan, before officers marched up Nathan Road towards Mong Kok, under a hail of insults, kicking away hastily arranged barricades.

People there were seen attacking a man who was lying bloodied and almost completely naked in Shantung Street after some kind of argument.

By this time, the violent clashes appeared to have gone full circle, as tear gas rained down and a police robot detonated a suspicious device in Causeway Bay, where the day's now almost predictable events had first started.

As of 1 o'clock on Sunday morning, the police had arrested over 200 people for alleged offences including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons, criminal damage, and wearing a face-mask at an unlawful assembly.

In addition, police said the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau arrested four men and a woman on Saturday, for the alleged possession of offensive weapons, after officers seized items including 188 petrol bombs, several extendable batons and cans of pepper spray.

Last updated: 2019-11-03 HKT 07:00