Police fired tear gas and protesters broke windows at a shopping mall Sunday in anti-government demonstrations across Hong Kong amid anger over a student activist’s death and the arrest of pro-democracy lawmakers.
Hong Kong is in the sixth month of protests that began in June over a proposed extradition law and have expanded to include demands for greater democracy and other grievances. Activists complain the government is eroding the autonomy and Western-style civil liberties promised when this former British colony returned to China in 1997.
Police in green fatigues with riot helmets and shields fired tear gas to clear streets in Tsuen Wan in the northwest after chasing protesters in the district’s Citywalk shopping mall. Officers walked up a four-lane thoroughfare shoulder to shoulder firing volleys of tear gas ahead of them.
Protesters started a small fire with debris in the street. The newspaper Apple Daily reported four men and one woman suspected of vandalizing shops in Tsuen Wan were taken away.
In Sha Tin in the northeast, authorities closed a subway station after protesters broke windows and damaged a ticket machine. Reporters saw police arrest three men at a residential complex elsewhere in Sha Tin but the reason wasn’t clear.
In Tuen Mun in the northwest, about three dozen people dressed in black, the symbolic colour of the protests, stormed through a shopping mall.
Most were peaceful but one used a club to smash windows while others overturned tables in a restaurant. Spectators on the street outside shouted “Cockroaches!” at police.
Inside the Festival Walk shopping mall in Kowloon Tong, reporters saw a man lying on a public walkway beside a small pool of blood with police standing over him. His condition and the reason for possible injuries were unclear.
There were brief shoving matches between police and shoppers, some of whom thrust their fists in the air in a gesture of defiance. Police released pepper spray inside the mall.
A government statement said one person who was arrested at Kowloon Tong escaped from police due to clamour caused by protesters.
Activists are demanding the resignation of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
The protests have added to downward pressure on Hong Kong’s economy. It already was struggling with declining global economic growth and the U.S.-Chinese tariff war.
The territory of 7.5 million people tumbled into its first recession since the global financial crisis after economic activity shrank 3.2% in the quarter ending in September.
On Saturday, police announced the arrest of six lawmakers on charges of obstructing the local assembly during a raucous May 11 meeting over the extradition bill. All were freed on bail.
Meanwhile, protesters mourned the death Friday death of a university student, Chow Tsz-Lok, who fell from a parking garage when police fired tear gas at protesters.
The circumstances of the death are unclear, but many accuse police of using heavy-handed tactics, including widespread use of tear gas and pepper spray. Police denied pushing the 22-year-old student during last Monday’s incident or delaying emergency treatment.
The territory is preparing for Nov. 24 district council elections that are viewed as a measure of public sentiment toward the government.
Pro-democracy lawmakers accuse the government of trying to provoke violence to justify cancelling or postponing the elections.
Violence erupted late Friday when protesters took to the streets following memorial events for the student in multiple locations.
More than 3,300 people have been arrested since the start of the protest movement.
The Associated Press