Police, protesters face off in renewed clashes in Hong Kong
HONG KONG (AP) — Police and protesters battled outside university campuses and several thousand demonstrators blocked roads as they took over a central business district at lunchtime today in another day of protest in Hong Kong.
The clashes followed an especially violent day in Hong Kong’s five months of anti-government demonstrations, in which police shot one protester and a man was set on fire.
Protesters littered streets with bricks and disrupted train service during the morning rush hour today. Commuter train passengers were escorted along the tracks, and subways were shut because of disruptions.
Police used tear gas in faceoffs with protesters in and around universities, where classes were canceled.
A few thousand protesters took over several blocks of the central business district at lunchtime. The demonstrators chanted “Five demands, not one less” holding up one hand with five outstretched fingers.
Their demands include democratic changes and investigation of police treatment of protesters.
Traffic was blocked on two major roads by the crowds, with half a dozen of Hong Kong’s famous trams lined up unable to move. The words “Join Us” were spray painted on the front window of a halted double-decker bus abandoned by the driver and passengers and one of its windows was broken.
Office workers filled the sidewalks and overhead walkways to watch the action, with some joining the protesters in chanting.
One 24-year-old man, who would not give his name, said he was there to support the protesters and accused the police of using excessive force, a common complaint among the city’s 7.4 million people.
Recent weeks have been marked by escalating vandalism against shops linked to mainland China and train stations, and assaults by both protesters and pro-Beijing supporters.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, speaking to news media after a weekly meeting with advisers, called the blocking of the morning commute “a very selfish act.”
“People from different sectors in society are holding fast to their positions and refusing to concede to violence or other radical actions,” she said. “I hereby express my gratitude to those who are still going to work and school today.”
On Monday, a police officer drew his gun during a struggle with protesters, shooting one in the abdomen. In another neighborhood, a 57-year-old man was set on fire after an apparent argument.