- Police in Hong Kong clashed with protesters on Monday, the 22nd anniversary of the territory’s handover from Britain to China.
- Police say a group of protesters attacked officers earlier in the day, throwing “objects containing unknown liquid” at around 9:30 a.m. local time. Police responded by firing pepper spray at protesters in an attempt to disperse crowds.
- Protesters dressed in hard hats and face masks stormed the legislative building later in the afternoon, breaking through a metal barrier and shattering the building’s glass windows in defiance of police warnings.
- Protesters graffitied the walls inside of the legislative building and ransacked the chambers. They eventually left the building after midnight following a police warning to clear out.
- Pro-democracy lawmakers condemned the violent protests, which occurred separately to a largely peaceful demonstration that was planned in advance.
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Police in Hong Kong clashed with protesters on Monday, which marked the 22nd anniversary of the territory’s handover from Britain to China.
Monday’s events are the latest in a string of protests that emerged in recent weeks against a controversial bill that would allow for the extradition of Hong Kong residents to China. Debate on the bill has since been postponed, though protesters have demanded leader Carrie Lam step down and are calling for an independent inquiry into reports of police brutality against protesters. A recent review of hundreds of photos and videos by The New York Times points to police using excessive force to respond to recent protests.
Clashes between police and protesters began on Monday morning. Police say protesters threw “objects containing unknown liquid” at officers at around 9:30 a.m. local time, which resulted in 13 officers being sent to the hospital for treatment. Reports indicate that police fired pepper spray at protesters and used batons earlier in an attempt to disperse crowds.
Police say additional protesters attempted to storm the legislature building beginning at around 1 p.m. local time.
Elsewhere, hundreds of thousands of people peacefully marched from Victoria Park to Admiralty from 2 p.m. local time in a planned demonstration marking the anniversary of the territory’s handover to China.
The offshoot group of protesters successfully infiltrated the Legislative Council chamber on Monday evening. They thew poles, umbrellas, and other objects at the window of the government building in the financial district, shattering the glass.
According to the Guardian, police responded by spraying the protesters with an unidentified liquid through holes in the glass doors. Police were ready with riot gear and held a banner which read: “Stop charging or we use force,” CNN reported.
But police were unable to subdue the masses gathered at the legislature building. Once inside, protesters sprayed the chamber walls with graffiti and attempted to hang a Hong Kong colonial flag over the city’s special administrative region emblem. When that didn’t work, they resorted to black spray paint to cover the crest. The protesters’ slogans included “release the righteous fighters” and “we want genuine universal suffrage,” the Guardian reported.
BREAKING Dozens of HK protesters have entered the Legco chamber pic.twitter.com/Cl5nd3f4sF
— Phila Siu (Bobby) (@phila_siu) July 1, 2019
Protesters are now swarming inside Legco. Police (who were in this very spot before) nowhere to be seen. pic.twitter.com/qLDD7kpFeO
— Antony Dapiran (@antd) July 1, 2019
— Malachy Browne (@malachybrowne) July 1, 2019
“This is a complete trap, I’m sorry that people played into it,” Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker Fernando Cheung told CNN’s James Griffiths inside the legislative chamber. He added that police could have easily cleared protesters but instead “allowed this to happen.”
Protesters finally cleared out of the building shortly after midnight following police warnings to evacuate, according to the BBC.
Lam, along with the city’s police force, hosted a press conference at 4 a.m. local time in which she condemned the protesters who stormed the legislature and vowed to take action.
“I am very outraged and distressed and I strongly condemn it,” she said.
“We have seen two entirely different public scenes. One is a regular march on July 1. Regardless of the number of participants in the march, the march was peaceful and generally orderly. This fully reflects the inclusiveness of Hong Kong society, and the core values we attach to peace and order.”
She continued: “The second scene that we have seen, which really saddens and shocks a lot of people, is the extreme use of violence and vandalism by protesters who stormed into the Legislative Council building over a period of time. This is something that we should seriously condemn, because nothing is more important than the rule of law in Hong Kong.”
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