About 400,000 people turned out for yet another protest in Hong Kong, according to the organizers’ estimate, while police put the number at 138,000. The people continue to voice their anger over the controversial bill that envisages sending criminal suspects to mainland China, as well as against the heavy-handed police response to the previous rallies.
Crowds of people marched through the center of the city while chanting slogans critical of the police and the local government. Thousands of the protesters defied the designated march route and surrounded the Chinese government liaison office.
There, they spray-painted over the lenses of security cameras, wrote graffiti on the walls and defaced the lettering on the office gate. Some burned piles of garbage on the streets outside. Police pushed the vandals back to the city’s financial district, where clashes erupted.
Masked protesters threw stones at police, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse the crowd.
A video taken at the scene by the Ruptly video agency shows medics carrying at least one person away on a stretcher. No casualties have been officially reported, however.
Separately, a group of masked men attacked protesters in one of the suburbs hours after the end of the march in central Hong Kong. City authorities have condemned this attack along with the violence during the demonstration, calling both “absolutely unacceptable.”
Hong Kong has been gripped by protests over the extradition bill for weeks even though the controversial legislation was suspended back in mid-June. Initially peaceful rallies quickly spiraled into violence and saw multiple fierce clashes between police and demonstrators, whom the city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor described as “rioters.”
Massive rally to support police as they seize explosives linked to anti-govt group
The anti-government rally was preceded by almost as big a demonstration in support of police on Saturday, which drew in over 100,000 people, according to police estimates. The organizers put the turnout at 316,000 people. The rally, held under the motto “Safeguard Hong Kong,” concluded without incident and saw protesters calling for unity and urging the government to stop using officers as “human shields” forced to pay for its mistakes.
Ahead of the rally, on Friday night, a cache of “extremely powerful” explosives and weapons were discovered in a warehouse used by a pro-independence group to store promotional materials in what police described as the “largest seizure” in the semi-autonomous city’s history. The group, however, denied any knowledge of the stash.
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