Police on Tuesday fired tear canisters on university campuses and in the city’s business district to disperse protesters for the second day in a row as they rallied to call for an investigation into alleged police brutality.
On Monday, major universities canceled their classes and graduation ceremonies as anti-government protesters disrupted traffic in the city. Police had entered the campuses of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the University of Hong Kong and arrested a number of students during clashes.
Police fired 255 tear-gas rounds, 204 rubber bullets, 45 bean-bag rounds and 96 sponge grenades. They arrested 287 people, including 190 students, for illegal assembly, possession of offensive weapons, assaulting police and property damage. Those arrested were aged between 12 and 82.
On Tuesday, police again entered the Chinese University of Hong Kong, fired numerous rounds of tear-gas at students and arrested a number of them at the sports ground.
The Scholars’ Alliance for Academic Freedom condemned the police for entering university campuses without a warrant, using tear gas and arresting people. Ip Kin-yuen, a lawmaker representing the education constituency, said the police cannot enter campuses unless there are special circumstances to justify it.
However, the police said the Public Order Ordinance gives officers the legal right to enter campuses during operations. They complained that some students threw debris onto the Tolo Highway and had illegally assembled at the university. Rocky Tuan, vice-chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, met the students and promised them that he would ask the police to release their detained peers.
In the evening, riot police again fired tear gas at students on a bridge leading to the campus. Masked protesters reacted by throwing gasoline bombs.
At noon on Tuesday, thousands of Hongkongers rallied in Central to call on the government to meet their five demands, which include the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry to look into alleged police brutality and the implementation of genuine universal suffrage.
People occupied Pedder Street and chanted slogans including “Hong Kong people, revenge!” and “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times!”
Faced with hundreds of protesters, the police left Peddar Street after raising blue flags signifying that they intended to use force. Dozens of officers moved to Exchange Square and patrolled until 2:30 pm.
The crowd vandalized the front of a Yoshinoya restaurant and spraypainted graffitis on buses. They also used bricks and debris to block Connaught Road Central.
Most shops in Central closed early. At around 3:15 pm, more than a hundred riot police officers descended on Pedder Street and fired tear gas.
Police spent an hour clearing Queen’s Road Central and engaged in a standoff against several hundred protesters on Des Voeux Road in Central. They fired a few tear-gas canisters but failed to disperse the crowd.
Protesters called the police “murderers” and “rapists,” referring to the suspicious case of Chow Tsz-lok, 22, who was seriously injured during a protest on November 4 and died on Friday, and the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl by four policemen at the Tsuen Wan police station on September 27.
Before the police retreated, they fired another round of tear gas on Pedder Street. However, protesters immediately reoccupied the roads in the business district. It was the second day that police fired tear gas in Central.
Clashes were seen in various districts across the city as protesters called for a citywide strike on Monday. Masked protesters burned debris on roads as they moved from place to place.
In Mongkok, clashes between police and protesters continued until midnight. In Tseung Kwan O, a mini-truck was torched after its driver reportedly threw objects at the protesters. The police entered private properties and fired tear gas. In Tai Po, the roads were littered with bricks that had been thrown by protesters.
In Tung Chung, police retreated after being attacked by some protesters.
On Tuesday evening, a police vehicle was set on fire by masked people in Shatin in the New Territories.
Protesters vowed to continue their actions on Wednesday. Chief Executive Carrie Lam condemned the violent protests and said the Education Bureau would not ask primary and secondary schools to cancel their classes.