Hong Kong: Hong Kong police fired gunshot and deployed water cannons for the first time as the civil unrest in the Chinese city entered its 11th week. The pro-democracy protesters hurled gasoline bombs, sticks and rods at police in riot gear in the latest summer-long protests that have shaken the city’s government and residents.
The day's main showdown took place on a major highway in Tsuen Wan district following a protest march that ended in a park. While a 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 traffic barriers and cones to obstruct police. Police brought out water cannon trucks, though they did not use them directly on protesters. Police told local media that the gunshot was fired as a warning to protesters, and that several officers had been taken to hospital as a result of the clashes. Police also fired rubber bullets and tear gas, and used two water cannon vehicles to clear barricades.
After hoisting warning flags, police used tear gas to try to disperse the crowd, to which the protesters responded by throwing bricks and gasoline bombs. 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 police created a surreal scene. The protesters eventually decided to abandon their position.
Some protesters said they are 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 clash after the march. Officers pulled their guns after protesters chased them down a street with sticks and rods, calling them “gangsters”.
Earlier last week protests in the Chinese-ruled city showed no signs of let-up as Hong Kong braced for multiple anti-government demonstrations and a "stress test" of the airport. Tens of thousands of protesters marched in the rain, many filled a park, chanting, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong”.
The Airport Authority published a half-page notice in newspapers urging young people to “love Hong Kong” and said it opposed acts that blocked the airport, adding that it would keep working to maintain smooth operations. Hong Kong’s high court extended an order restricting protests at the airport. Some activists had apologised for last week’s airport turmoil.
Pro-democracy residents have been rebelling since early this summer over what they see as Communist China’s increasing control over the Special Administrative Region, which is technically part of China but was promised more democratic rights than the Communist mainland when England ceded control in 1997. They are demanding the resignation of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, democratic elections and an independent investigation into police abuse.