Protesters in Hong Kong have stormed a government building in protest against communist policies and police have responded with force.
At least 50 are estimated to be injured after police launched teargas on protesters who broke into the Legislative Council building housing Hong Kong’s government as a message of protest against the communist policies encroaching Hong Kong’s freedoms, CNN reported Monday.
Tensions rise as Hong Kong riot police fire tear gas and charge protesters in street after demonstrators gained access to Legislative Council building https://t.co/ZaRsgDe2hO pic.twitter.com/fgRQyFaBlz
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) July 1, 2019
The protests land on the 22nd anniversary marking the transfer of power over Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997. The day is usually marked with smaller, peaceful protests from pro-communist and anti-communist groups, but not on this scale of size and violence.
Protestors stormed the main Council chamber, smashing windows, destroying politicians’ portraits and spray-painting messages over walls.
Protesters try to smash their way into Hong Kong legislative building as protests escalate on the 22nd anniversary of the former British colony’s return to China. https://t.co/dApdYbmlwq pic.twitter.com/tsQKOwKXFW
— ABC News (@ABC) July 1, 2019
One message on a banner read, “There are no rioters, only a tyrannous government,” and another sprayed on the Council chamber wall read, “Hong Kong is not China,” the Hong Kong Free Press reported.
Hong Kong legislator Claudia Mo told CNN, “They’re not inside that legislature doing all that vandalizing for fun. They were angry.”
Graffiti, glass and tear gas: Scenes of defiance from protesters in Hong Kong https://t.co/VI00f54fiM
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 1, 2019
Mo described the Hong Kong legislature as “being dominated by Beijing minions,” adding that the pro-communist legislators outnumber the pro-democracy legislators.
Hundreds of police officers responded, raising banners warning of their impending response before eventually firing teargas canisters into the crowd.
CNN’s Matt Rivers described the response as “incredibly swift” and filled with “force and aggression.” He added that the response “killed the spirit” of the protesters.
— TIME (@TIME) July 1, 2019
It is the fourth mass protest to take place in Hong Kong sparked by a proposed extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to mainland China to stand for trial before communist-controlled courts.
While initial protests to the bill in early June demanded the bill to be withdrawn over fears that the law would be abused as a political tool, the bill was only suspended.
Protesters have demanded a complete withdrawal of the bill and the resignation of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam. They also want to stop the “mischaracterization” of the protests as riots and mobs, charges dropped against arrested protesters, and an investigation into the brutal response conducted by police.
The Hong Kong government released a statement condemning the protests and vandalism.