Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong on the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.
Demonstrators called for the Hong Kong government to agree to their five demands. They have demanded an independent inquiry into police brutality, the withdrawal of the “riot” characterization of the June 12 protests, the release of all arrested protesters, and the implementation of genuine universal suffrage. The government agreed to their key demand – the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill – on September 4.
Although MTR Corp shut down stations including Tuen Mun, Tsuen Wan, Shatin, Wong Tai Sin, Causeway Bay, Wan Chai and Admiralty, black shirt-wearing protesters were still able to march in the afternoon. Organizers of the rallies failed to secure permission from the police, but protesters marched anyway, which is considered an act of “illegal assembly.”
On Hong Kong Island, people began marching at around 1:30 pm in Causeway Bay, walking towards Central.
A woman said October 1 should not be a day for celebration as the Chinese Communist Party began to rule China 70 years ago. Someone dropped joss paper, or ghost money, onto the streets.
Some people played music while many others sang Glory To Hong Kong.
Black-clad protesters painted graffiti on Starbucks coffee shops as the brand’s franchisee – Maxim’s – has a pro-Beijing boss. Bank of China ATMs were defaced with black paint and eggs while a Taiwanese beverage shop was praised by the crowd.
Some people put debris at the exits of MTR stations as they complained that the MTR Corp helped undermine the public’s freedom of assembly by shutting down stations.
Police patrolled the pedestrian overpasses near the Wan Chai police headquarters. During previous marches, they did not patrol them.
The peaceful march was not stopped by the police, some of whom remained inside the Wan Chai MTR station. At about 4 pm, most marchers had arrived in Admiralty. Thousands of them chose to occupy Harcourt Road while others ended their journey in Central.
At 4:30 pm, police started to take action after some people threw bricks and rocks at the government headquarters. They fired several rounds of tear-gas and used their water-cannon vehicle to disperse the crowd. Some demonstrators were painted blue.
Some people burned debris on a road near the government headquarters. The fire was then put out by firefighters.
At around 5 pm, police started clearing Hennessy Road with two water-cannon trucks. They also fired tear-gas canisters and pepper balls.
However, riot police became frustrated as they could not get into a restaurant on Johnson Road to arrest protesters. They shouted at the people and called them “rubbish” while a black-shirted man showed them his middle finger.
Police commander David Jordan urged the press to take videos of “rioters” who allegedly threw bricks and set fires.
Riot police then intercepted two men and searched them. They shouted at them but then had to release them after failing to find any criminal evidence.
One of them, surnamed Luk, told reporters that he lived there and that he had gone out to buy some snacks. He said the police officers were rude and unreasonable and only wanted to vent their anger.
Police continued their clearance operation in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay in the evening.
A young man surnamed Chan, who did not want to show his face, told Asia Times that he supported the demonstrators as they were fighting for the freedom of the Hong Kong people. He said he was not afraid of being intercepted by the police as he was only holding a mobile phone.
Standoffs between police and protesters continued in various districts until the late evening.