Tens of thousands of Hong Kong people wore masks as they marched against a new anti-mask law in Kowloon and on Hong Kong Island on Sunday afternoon.
After many shops, restaurants and banks were attacked by angry crowds on Friday evening in reaction to the new law, only some small-scale protests were seen in Central and Tsim Sha Tsui on Saturday as netizens called for a rest before resuming the marches the next day.
By Sunday noon, the MTR Corp had resumed services in 45 subway stations but failed to open the remaining 48, which are located in prime protest sites. In the late afternoon, it closed all the stations again.
At 1:30pm, tens of thousands occupied Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay, opposing the anti-mask law. They marched toward Central, and returned to Admiralty, where some standoffs with the police occurred.
In Kowloon, tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Tsim Sha Tsui at 3pm and marched toward Mong Kok. As marchers occupied Nathan Road, many cars and buses were unable to pass. There was a shower of rain at the beginning of the march.
Marchers chanted slogans including “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times!” and “Hong Kong people, rebel!” They criticized the police for not showing up when white-shirted gangs indiscriminately attacked passengers in Yuen Long MTR station on July 21, hitting people with batons in Prince Edward MTR station on August 31 and shooting a young person with live ammunition on October 1.
When the crowd arrived at Prince Edward, they blocked nearby roads with bamboo sticks, bricks and metal barricades. At around 5pm, police fired several rounds of teargas canisters at dozens of demonstrators near the Mong Kok police station. The crowd retreated back to Nathan Road.
Some masked people vandalized MTR station exits, Chinese banks, shops and restaurants owned by alleged supporters of Beijing. They also burned debris on the roads, and firefighters were called to extinguish the flames.
A young person, together with two other people, was seen throwing a gasoline bomb into a vandalized ICBC Bank branch in Mong Kok, causing an explosion. They left the site immediately. A China Construction Bank in Mong Kok was also partially on fire. Some nearby residents said they were worried that their apartments would be affected.
Water flowed into the Mong Kok MTR station after the fire sprinkler system was damaged. An elevator for wheelchairs was also vandalized.
Quentin, a 27-year-old information-technology engineer from France, told Asia Times that Hong Kong should not have an anti-mask law as China would use surveillance cameras, facial-recognition technology and citizen rating systems to control Hong Kong people. He said an anti-mask law was launched in France to target some violent protests in Paris.
Regina Ip Lau Shuk-yee, chairwoman of the New People’s Party and a member of the Executive Council, said the anti-mask law in Hong Kong would have an effect by suppressing violent protests over the long run but might provoke the public in the short term.
At around 5pm, a taxi driver was seen driving toward a crowd at the junction of Cheung Sha Wan Road and Yu Chau Street. His car knocked down a woman, who suffered bone fractures and cuts. The driver was then beaten up by black-shirted people. Riot police arrived and sent him to hospital.
A former TV actress was also punched in Mong Kok after she took pictures of masked people, began a quarrel and kicked a black-shirted man. Police criticized the attackers’ violent behavior. The Hong Kong government said the vandalism and the attacks on people proved that there was a need to launch the anti-mask law.
At around 6pm, some of the crowd in Mong Kok walked toward Kowloon Tong while the rest walked back to Tsim Sha Tsui. At around 6:45pm, hundreds of riot police arrived in Yau Ma Tei. They tried to disperse the crowd but most demonstrators had gone. They fired some teargas canisters.
In Kowloon Tong, some demonstrators used laser pointers to point at the People’s Liberation Army’s barrack. They were then dispersed by riot police. Standoffs on the streets continued until late evening, though for the most part the protesters were deterred by heavy rain.