Hong Kong police fired tear gas at protesters who built barricades, started blazes and paralyzed traffic in the territory’s prime business area yesterday after a peaceful march to the US consulate in a bid to ramp up international pressure on Beijing.
Riot police dispersed demonstrators in parts of Central only for them to regather in other districts.
Officers fired tear gas about 7pm in the busy shopping neighborhood of Causeway Bay, where protesters had massed after some started a fire at an entrance to the territory’s busiest subway station.
However, by about 9:15pm, most of the streets were cleared and TV images showed hand-tied demonstrators lined up against walls.
Earlier, tens of thousands of people had marched peacefully to the US consulate, after filling up Chater Garden, a park the size of a football field, and stretching for blocks in every direction.
The marchers urged US President Donald Trump to “liberate” the territory as they press for more democratic freedom, chanting “Resist Beijing, Liberate Hong Kong” and “Stand with Hong Kong, fight for freedom.”
Many of them, clad in black shirts and wearing masks, waved US flags and carried posters that read “President Trump, please liberate Hong Kong.”
Riot police stood watch during the march to the consulate.
“Hong Kong is at the forefront of the battle against the totalitarian regime of China,” said Panzer Chan, one of the organizers of the march. “Please support us in our fight.”
Protesters urged Washington to pass a bill, known as the Hong Kong Democratic and Human Rights Act, to support their cause.
The bill proposes sanctions against Hong Kong and Chinese officials found to suppress democracy and human rights in the territory, and could also affect Hong Kong’s preferential trade status with the US.
Hong Kong’s government promised last week to withdraw a controversial extradition bill — an early demand of protesters — but that has failed to appease the demonstrators, who have widened their demands to include other issues, such as greater democracy.
Yesterday’s rally followed violent clashes overnight between protesters and police at several metro stations.
Prominent activist Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said he was arrested yesterday morning at Hong Kong International Airport upon his return from a trip to Taiwan, for allegedly breaching bail conditions.
Wong said in a statement through his legal representative that he was being held in custody and expected to be released after a hearing today.
Wong was one of several prominent activists arrested late last month in a crackdown on protest leaders, and was released on bail shortly after his detention.
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