New Clashes in Hong Kong as Pro-Democracy Activists Surround Govt Buildings
'Surround the government,' protesters chanted as the police, with riot shields and helmets, came out to face them
New clashes between pro-democracy protesters and police erupted in Hong Kong on Sunday as demonstrators attempted to surround government buildings.
The New York Times reports:
The renewed political confrontation came minutes after student leaders of the protest movement urged supporters to besiege city government offices ahead of the working day on Monday, in an attempt to force concessions to the protesters’ demands for democratic elections for the city leader.
“Surround the government headquarters,” Nathan Law, a leading member of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, an organization of university students, declared from a podium in the Admiralty district where thousands of protesters had gathered. The protest area is a few minutes’ walk from the city government offices that the demonstrators have threatened to besiege.
“Participate if you have the equipment, if you can take the risk,” Mr. Law told the crowd. “We do not encourage you to attack police officers.”
Minutes after he spoke, thousands of protesters rushed toward the government offices, including the headquarters of Hong Kong’s chief executive, the city’s top leader, where the police were ready with barricades and anti-riot equipment.
“Surround the government,” protesters chanted as the police, with riot shields and helmets, came out to face them at two ends of a road leading to the chief executive’s office.
According to Reuters:
The crowds, chanting "Surround government headquarters!" and "Open the road!", made their way to the buildings in Admiralty, next to Hong Kong's central business district and some of the world's most expensive real estate.
"I urge everyone to stay here until the morning to keep surrounding the government headquarters. Let's stop the government from functioning tomorrow," a protester clad in a black T-shirt shouted into a loud hailer.
Scores of protesters with wooden shields and metal barricades charged police as officers warned them to retreat. Police, who have been accused of using excessive force, struck demonstrators with batons in a bid to push them back.
Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters are demanding free elections for the city's next leader in 2017, not the vote between pre-screened candidates that Beijing has said it will allow.
The democracy movement represents one of the biggest threats for China's Communist Party leadership since its bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy student protests in and around Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
Demonstrators threw bottles, helmets and umbrellas at police as tensions escalated.
Police used pepper spray in an attempt to disperse the protesters, dragging several to the ground before cuffing them with plastic ties and taking them away. Scores of demonstrators held up umbrellas, which have become a symbol of the pro-democracy movement, to protect themselves from the spray.