Thousands of Hong Kong protesters surrounded the Legislative Council building in Admiralty on Monday, with dozens of them breaking glass walls while some others changed the national flag in Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai into a darkened one.
At 9pm, hundreds of protesters entered and evacuated the Legco building. They damaged surveillance cameras and sprayed slogans on the walls demanding the resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the withdrawal of the extradition bill. They also called for dropping the charges against the demonstrators who were arrested on June 12 protests. As of 11:30pm, thousands of protesters were outside the Legco building.
Hong Kong police said they would take action within a short period of time. A police spokesman called those who entered the Legco building “rioters.”
At midnight, the police fired some teargas canisters at protesters on the streets. Occupiers left the Legco building.
Read: Police criticized for firing tear gas, rubber bullets at protesters
In the early morning on July 1, which marked the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s 1997 handover from the the British to the Chinese government, hundreds of protesters gathered in Admiralty and Wan Chai. At around 4am, they blocked Lung Wo Road and Harcourt Road with metal barricades. Some protesters changed the national flag outside Legco to a darkened version of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region flag while the official SAR flag hung at half-mast beside it.
Hundreds of armed police were patrolling around the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center in Wan Chai as a flag-raising ceremony was scheduled at the nearby Bauhinia Square at 8am. The police had placed large water-filled barricades around the area since Sunday.
At 7:20am, police with shields and helmets had clashed with the protesters on Fenwick Pier Street, according to RTHK. They used pepper spray and batons to push the protesters back. They also tried to disperse the protesters on Harcourt Road.
The scheduled flag-raising ceremony kicked off at 8pm but it was done in a rainy-day arrangement that Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and top officials could only watch proceedings through a live broadcast from inside the exhibition center.
Read: Youth groups not invited to July 1 flag-raising
In her speech, Lam said she had learned a lesson after the Hong Kong government failed to explain the extradition bill clearly to the public. She said she would change her governing style and listen to people from different communities, particularly young people. However, she did not mention the deaths of the three young people who reportedly committed suicide as they felt desperate about the extradition bill.
A 21-year-old female student of the Education University of Hong Kong jumped to her death from her home in Fan Ling on Saturday after leaving an anti-extradition note on a wall. A 29-year-old woman jumped to her death from the International Finance Center in Central. She was said to have posted a message on social media saying that she felt hopeless about Hong Kong’s future.
Since an anti-extradition protester fell and died in Pacific Place on June 14, non-governmental organizations have called on the public to help those who feel depressed about the extradition bill.
Read: People pay tribute to Hong Kong protester who died
After the flag-rising ceremony on Monday morning, protesters occupied key roads in Admiralty and surrounded the Legco building. At around 1:30pm, dozens of protesters decided to escalate their protests by shattering the glass walls with a metal trolley and some metal bars.
Several pro-democracy lawmakers tried to persuade the protesters to give up their actions but they failed. Lawmaker Claudia Mo told the protesters that they could be jailed for up to 10 years if they broke into the Legco building by force. The protesters told Mo they would take responsibility for their actions. Some said they could not do nothing after three people died.
Lester Shum, a Hong Kong social activist and one of the young leaders in the 2014 Umbrella Movement, said in a post on Facebook that he was told by some social workers that some protesters were willing to “sacrifice their lives.”
At 4pm, one of the glass walls on the ground floor of the Legco building was broken, while cracks were seen in some other glass walls. Some protesters entered the building.
Legco President Andrew Leung, as well as the pro-establishment camp, condemned the behavior of protesters. The Hong Kong government also issued a statement to condemn the protesters.
While the police redeployed manpower to the Legco, a group of protesters changed the national flag in Bauhinia Square into a darkened version of the SAR flag at 2pm. At 5pm, the government announced it was canceling the flag-folding ceremony, citing “maintenance” as the reason
At 3pm, tens of thousands of Hong Kong people began a march organized by the Civil Human Rights Front in Causeway Bay. They called for Carrie Lam to step down and the withdrawal of the extradition bill. When they arrived at Admiralty at around 4:30pm, some of them went to support the occupiers outside the Legco building, while some walked toward Central.
The Civil Human Rights Front said a total of 550,000 people joined the July 1 march. Police said there were 190,000 marchers at its peak.
Read: Lam HK’s worst performing chief executive, survey finds
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