Shops shut, traffic blocked as protests roil Hong Kong again

HONG KONG, August 3

The Hong Kong police fired tear gas on Saturday night in confrontations with black-clad activists in the city’s Kowloon area, as the Chinese-controlled territory was again rocked by anti-government protests. Police kept out of sight during an afternoon that saw tens of thousands of protesters march through what is ordinarily a busy shopping district, but charged onto the streets, with hundreds of officers in riot gear pushing crowds back.

As more than 1,000 protesters stood their ground on Nathan Road, a major thoroughfare, police warned against what they called an illegal assembly and urged them to leave immediately or force would be used.

Protests against a proposed Bill allowing people to be extradited to stand trial in mainland China have grown increasingly violent since June, with police accused of excessive force and failing to protect protesters from suspected gang attacks.

Police said they used tear gas to disperse the crowd after protesters set fires outside the Tsim Sha Tsui police station and “damaged multiple vehicles inside the station”.

Earlier in the day, protesters marched through the crowded Mong Kok district, with many then dispersing to different parts of the Kowloon peninsula, where they set up barriers across busy streets to block traffic.

Protesters, covering their faces with masks or bandanas and wearing helmets and goggles, have adopted increasingly sophisticated tactics. On Saturday, many carried hiking sticks and some held homemade shields.

Organisers said 120,000 people joined the rally. Police said 42,000 people had joined the march at its peak.

In the Nathan Road area, normally packed with shoppers on a Saturday, shutters were down on most street-facing shops, including 7-11 convenience stores, jewellery chain Chow Tai Fook and watch brands Rolex and Tudor. The main entrance to the landmark Peninsula Hotel was closed.

Across the harbour, in Victoria Park on Hong Kong island, thousands of people, mostly wearing white, held a separate afternoon rally in support of the police. — Reuters

Protesters throw Chinese flag into iconic harbour

Hong Kong protesters removed a Chinese national flag from its pole and flung it into the city’s iconic Victoria Harbour on Saturday after a pro-democracy rally once again continued into the evening despite police warnings to stick to a short, pre-approved route.