- Hong Kong protests turned violent on Monday as some protesters clashed with police at the city’s legislative building.
- Protesters have taken to the streets in large numbers for weeks over a controversial bill that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China to stand trial.
- While hundreds of thousands of people turned out for peaceful demonstrations across the city, hundreds of other protesters swarmed and defaced the legislature chambers.
- In response, riot police turned up with tear gas and shields to disperse protesters.
- While the city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has already postponed debate on the extradition bill, demonstrators say they will continue to rally until their demands, such as her resignation and a full withdrawal of the bill, are met.
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Hundreds of protesters in Hong Kong infiltrated the city’s legislative building on Monday night following weeks of protest against a controversial bill that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China to stand trial.
The demonstrations coincided with the 22nd anniversary of the territory’s handover from British to Chinese rule. Earlier in the day, protesters gathered to block off a flag-raising ceremony attended by Hong Kong and Chinese officials, as riot police used pepper spray and batons against them.
During the ceremony, which was moved indoors as the crowds gathered, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that since the territory “returned to the motherland… Hong Kong has, generally speaking, remained stable and prosperous.”
She once again acknowledged, in response to the weeks of escalating discord, that she hadn’t properly handled the disputed legislation. “After this incident, I will learn the lesson and ensure that the government’s future work will be closer and more responsive to the aspirations, sentiments, and opinions of the community,” she said.
As hordes of mostly young protesters surrounded the headquarters of the Legislative Council, hundreds of thousands of others, including families and children, marched peacefully down the streets of downtown Hong Kong urging for the resignation of city leaders.
Those at the Legislative Council building, clad in hard hats, plastic wrapped around their arms and legs, and face masks to conceal their identities, smashed windows and tore down metal fencing before charging inside. Protesters told The New York Times they felt the government wasn’t listening to their concerns.
Monday’s brazen show of civil disobedience is a direct challenge to Beijing as it tries to exert influence over the territory, and signals the deepening apprehension felt by many Hong Kong residents toward China, especially as President Xi Jinping continues to put forth increasingly authoritarian policies.
While Lam has already postponed debate on the extradition bill, demonstrators say they will continue to rally until their demands are met.
On Monday night, within the seized legislative building, protesters issued a list of demands called the “Admirality Declaration,” according to CNN. Those include a full withdrawal of the extradition bill, Lam’s resignation, and an investigation into police brutality that has transpired during recent protests.
Late in the night on Monday, hundreds of riot police with tear gas and shields gathered in response to the takeover of the legislative building. As of 11 p.m., hospital authority told the South China Morning Post that 54 people involved with the protests were being treated, including three in serious condition.
Here’s a glimpse at the sweeping protests that have taken over the city.
More than 500,000 protesters, including families and children, took to the streets on Monday afternoon in a peaceful pro-democracy march, a sharp contrast to the turmoil at the Legislative Council building. Protesters held signs with the slogans “Free HK Democracy Now,” and “Hong Kong Fights For Democracy.”
But, slates of violence erupted in other parts of the city, as protesters relied on homemade shields and umbrellas to protect themselves from police.
Police employed pepper spray and batons in an attempt to disperse the hundreds of protesters who started the day off by occupying the road that led to where the flag-raising ceremony was supposed to occur. The ceremony was eventually moved inside, which officials said was due to “inclement weather.”
After unsuccessfully accessing the site of the flag-raising ceremony, protesters tried to enter the headquarters of the Legislative Council. Hundreds surrounded the building, smashing windows and tearing down parts of the glass and metal exterior.
A protester can be seen being dragged on the ground by riot police.
Protesters in face masks and dressed in black moved metal barricades down the street.
Finally, protesters broke through the glass and swarmed the building.