Hong Kong protests: Why they turned violent this weekend

Some protesters said they're resorting to violence because the government has not responded to their peaceful demonstrations.

REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Anti-extradition bill protesters are surrounded by tear gas during clashes with police in Tsuen Wan in Hong Kong, China August 25, 2019.

Hong Kong police drew their guns and fired a warning shot Sunday night after protesters attacked officers with sticks and rods, bricks and molotov cocktails. Police also brought out water cannon trucks for the first time, an escalation in the summer-long protests that have shaken the city's government and residents.

Some protesters said they're resorting to violence because the government has not responded to their peaceful demonstrations.
"The escalation you're seeing now is just a product of our government's indifference toward the people of Hong Kong," said Rory Wong, who was at the showdown after the march.

Sunday's main showdown took place on a major drag in the outlying Tsuen Wan district following a protest march that ended in a nearby park. While a large crowd rallied in the park, a group of hard-line protesters took over a main street, strewing bamboo poles on the pavement and lining up orange and white traffic barriers and cones to obstruct police.

After hoisting warning flags, police used tear gas to try to disperse the crowd. Protesters responded by throwing bricks and gasoline bombs toward the police. The result was a surreal scene of small fires and scattered paving bricks on the street between the two sides, rising clouds of tear gas and green and blue laser lights pointed by the protesters at the police.

The protesters eventually decided to abandon their position. Two water cannon trucks and a phalanx of police vehicles with flashing lights joined riot police on foot as they advanced up the street. They met little resistance. Television footage showed a water cannon being fired once, but perhaps more as a test, as it didn't appear to reach the retreating protesters.

Officers pulled their guns after a group of remaining protesters chased them down a street with sticks and rods, calling them "gangsters." The officers held up their shields to defend themselves as they retreated. Police said that one officer fell to the ground and six drew their pistols after they were surrounded, with one firing the warning shot.

One neighborhood resident, Dong Wong, complained about the tear gas. "I live on the 15th floor and I can even smell it at home," he said. "I have four dogs, sneezing, sneezing all day. ... The protesters didn't do anything, they just blocked the road to protect themselves."

Police said they arrested 36 people, including a 12-year-old, for offenses such as unlawful assembly, possession of an offensive weapon and assaulting police officers.

Earlier Sunday, tens of thousands of umbrella-carrying protesters marched in the rain. Many filled Tsuen Wan Park, the endpoint of the rally, chanting, "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong," the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

The march in Hong Kong's New Territories started near the Kwai Fong train station, which has become a focal point for protesters after police used tear gas there earlier this month. Police with riot gear could be seen moving into position along the march route.
Protesters have taken to the semiautonomous Chinese territory's streets for more than two months. Their demands include democratic elections and an investigation into police use of force to quell the protests.

A large group clashed with police on Saturday after a march in the Kowloon Bay neighborhood, building barricades and setting fires in the streets. Police said they arrested 29 people for various offenses, including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons and assaulting police officers.

The clashes, while not as prolonged or violent as some earlier ones, ended a brief lull in the violence. The protests, which began in early June, had turned largely peaceful the previous weekend, after weeks of escalating violence.

In nearby Macao, another Chinese territory, a pro-Beijing committee chose a businessman as the gambling hub's next leader with little of the controversy surrounding the government in Hong Kong.

Ho Iat-seng, running unopposed, will succeed current leader Chui Sai-on in December. Asked about the protests in Hong Kong, the 62-year-old Ho said they would end eventually, like a major typhoon.

Protesters in Hong Kong have demanded that the city's leader, Carrie Lam, also chosen by a pro-Beijing committee, step down, though that demand has evolved into a broader call for fully democratic elections.
___
Associated Press videojournalists Yves Dam Van, Katie Tam and Johnson Lai contributed to this report.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.