Battles between police and anti-extradition bill protesters erupted on Sunday in a number of districts in Hong Kong amid rumors about armed gangs from mainland China mobilizing to attack activists.
In the afternoon, pro-democracy protesters again employed the tactic of splitting into groups and besieging police stations in different parts of the city to protest police brutality.
In Kowloon, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters outside Sham Shui Po Police Station and Cheung Sha Wan Police Station just before 6 pm.
The protesters had earlier taken part in an unauthorized rally at the Maple Street Playground before marching through the district. They then set up barricades at an intersection, prompting the police to fire tear gas.
Another group was seen setting up roadblocks at the Cross Harbour Tunnel in Hung Hom.
The situation escalated in the evening. Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station on Nathan Road in Kowloon turned into a battleground for the second day in a row. Police fired tear gas at the protesters from inside the police station. However, the protesters picked up the canisters and threw them back. The protesters were also seen throwing bricks at the station.
Meanwhile, police also fired volleys of tear gas to push back protesters who had set up barricades on Fenwick Street in Wan Chai, which is only 250 meters away from the police headquarters.
Last Friday police banned four marches planned for Saturday and Sunday.
The police granted approval for a rally in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay but rejected a proposal for a march to North Point, where armed gangsters from mainland China were rumored to be gathering to attack protesters.
Starting at noon, more police officers were deployed to monitor the situation in North Point, a district known as “Little Fujian” because many Fujianese live in the area.
About 100 men who speak the Putonghua and Minnan dialects, some wearing red T-shirts with the Chinese characters for “Fujian people” on the front and “safeguard China Hong Kong” on the back, gathered in a restaurant on King’s Road.
No protesters appeared in North Point, but a number of people attacked at least four reporters outside the restaurant, slapping their faces and interfering with their cameras. Though many police officers were around, they did not arrest any of the attackers.
Rumors had been circulating in the city since Tuesday that some mainland Chinese from Fujian Province and Lufeng and Shanwei in Guangdong Province were traveling to Hong Kong to attack the “black-shirt people,” apparently referring to anti-extradition bill protesters.
On August 5, a group of “white-shirt people,” suspected triad members, attacked protesters with bamboo sticks at the junction of King’s Road and Ming Yuen Western Street in North Point. Meanwhile, another group of white-shirt people attacked protesters in Tsuen Wan in the New Territories.
During the week, rumors circulated among WhatsApp and WeChat users about Fujianese and mainlanders from Lufeng traveling to Hong Kong to look for a fight on Sunday.
On Saturday, a major Fujianese group in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Federation of Fujian Associations, said its members would “definitely not come out to beat anyone.” The group held a gathering aimed at “stopping violence, opposing independence and protecting our home,” Radio Television Hong Kong reported.
Ng Woon-yim, the chairman of the federation, said members had been asked to stay at home, adding that Fujianese had also been told to remain calm and restrained and help to restore social stability.
He said, “We’ll defend ourselves indoors, not outside. We will defend ourselves at home. We won’t walk out our door, don’t worry,” Ng said.