Hong Kong descends into chaos again as protesters defy ban

Police officers stand next to a burning barricade during an anti-government protest in Hong Kong. (Reuters)

Hong Kong streets descended into chaotic scenes following an unauthorized pro-democracy rally Sunday, as protesters set up roadblocks and torched businesses, and police responded with tear gas and a water cannon.

Protesters tossed firebombs and took their anger out on shops with mainland Chinese ties as they skirmished late into the evening with riot police, who unleashed numerous tear gas rounds on short notice, angering residents and passers-by.

Police had beefed up security measures ahead of the rally, for which they refused to give permission, the latest chapter in the unrest that has disrupted life in the financial hub since early June.

Some 24 people were hurt and treated at hospitals, including six with serious injuries, the Hospital Authority said.

Police did not give an arrest figure. One person was seen being handcuffed and taken away to a police van.

As the rally march set off, protest leaders carried a black banner that read, “Five main demands, not one less,” as they pressed their calls for police accountability and political rights in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Supporters sang the protest movement’s anthem, waved colonial and US flags, and held up placards depicting the Chinese flag as a Nazi swastika.

Many protesters wore masks in defiance of a recently introduced ban on face coverings at public gatherings, and volunteers handed more out to the crowd.

As night fell, protesters returned to the streets, setting trash on fire at intersections.

Residents jeered riot police, cursing at them and telling them to leave. The officers, in turn, warned people that they were part of an illegal assembly and told them to leave, and unleashed tear gas to disperse the crowds.

The protest movement sprang out of opposition to a government proposal for an extradition bill that would have sent suspects to mainland China to stand trial, and then ballooned into broader demands for full democracy and an inquiry into alleged police brutality.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:54 - GMT 06:54
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