UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Riot police in Hong Kong on Saturday fired tear gas and used batons to beat protesters who responded with a torrent of stones and bottles after a demonstration in a working-class neighborhood turned violent, contrary to several days of peaceful protests.
Thousands of protesters, many of whom wore hard helmets and gas masks, marched in Kwun Tong Industrial Estate, where dozens of riot police intercepted with armor and batons.
Hardline protesters in the front lines, known as the “brave”, blocked the road using traffic barriers and bamboo building poles as they shouted at policemen. Police responded with tear gas and pepper spray.
Tear gas clouds spread throughout the area as protesters were pulling out, leaving behind broken bottles and at least one blaze.
Police arrested many protesters, dressed in black, after they broke through the ranks of protesters.
Police have become the target of anger at the protesters over their violent response to weeks of protests. Hate against the police, which used batons, rubber bullets, and tear gas against militant demonstrators, was also accused of beating peaceful protesters.
After serious violence and clashes a week and a half ago, especially at the airport of the autonomous city, what appeared to be a tendency to violence in the city.
Around 1.7 million protesters, according to organizers’ data, participated in huge marches called by the protest movement to emphasize the “peaceful” protests.
But Saturday’s rally was tense, with hardline protesters known as the “brave” gathering in the front lines.
– “Peace will not solve the problem” –
Protests in Hong Kong began with protests against a bill allowing extradition to mainland China, but expanded to demand democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city.
The high cost of living and the lack of job opportunities have led many young protesters to demonstrate in the streets and vent their anger.
“I understand that peaceful demonstration will not solve the problem,” said a young protester who gave his first name, Ryan.
“The government will not respond to peaceful protests,” the 19-year-old told AFP. “If I was arrested it would be because I went out to demand justice.”
“The government has chosen not to solve the problem by communicating with the protesters,” the young man told AFP.
The police chased hundreds of protesters. The detainees were assembled in a line below a bridge in the area.
The split among the elderly over the motives and tactics of the protest movement, which led to unprecedented chaos in the city known for its safety and stability.
“I have never seen Hong Kong in such a situation,” said De Xiong, 65. “The young people who took to the streets put their future at stake,” he said. “They are doing it for Hong Kong.”
“Maybe there are some things that we don’t agree with, like the ‘braves’ who are doing the wrong thing. But let’s think about why they’re doing it.”
Hong Kong has little-known freedoms on the Chinese mainland under an agreement that came into effect when Britain returned its former colony to China in 1997. Many Hong Kong residents say freedoms are dwindling, especially since Chinese President Xi Jinping came to power.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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