Hundreds of armed police fired tear gas and rubber and bean bag bullets to disperse the crowds on Wednesday afternoon after tens of thousands of Hong Kong people occupied the roads in Admiralty to oppose the controversial extradition law.
At least 22 people were sent to hospital, including a driver of RTHK, who was hit by a tear gas can.
James To Kun-sun, deputy chairman of Panel on Security, Legislative Council, criticized the police for using excessive force against protestors as rubber and bean bag shot guns are lethal weapons if they are used at a short distance.
Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung said if officers had not taken such action, “protesters would have used metal bars to stab our colleagues.” He also called the situation in Admiralty a “riot”.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in a video that she condemned the participants of the “riot”.
Prior to this, Lam said in an exclusive interview with TVB that she had not betrayed or “sold out Hong Kong”. Struggled to hold back tears, she said she had actually “sold herself to Hong Kong” with many of her personal sacrifices.
Protestors had been staying outside the Legco building in Admiralty since Tuesday evening as the Legco planned to discuss the Extradition Bill amendment at 11am on Wednesday.
At around 8am, protestors occupied Harcourt Road, Tim Mei Avenue, Lung Wo Road and Tamar Park, forcing the Legco meeting to postpone. They urged the government to withdraw the amendment by 3pm.
They attempted to break through the line of defence wall built by the policemen around Legco in order to enter the complex. They were wearing masks and goggles and shielding themselves with umbrellas.
Between 3pm and 6pm, the police were dispersing the crowds with tear gas and rubber and bean bag bullets. Most protestors retreated to Pacific Place while police kept firing tear gas outside the luxury shopping mall.
Protesters will not leave unless Lam withdraws the extradition bill, said Jimmy Sham, convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front, which organised the protest.