HONG KONG – Tens of thousands of demonstrators hit the streets at a peaceful rally Sunday in which a collision broke out in a mall when police tried to evict a small group of younger demonstrators.
The protest march was the last attempt by protesters to spread their movement in the semi-autonomous Chinese region, and the first major test of public sentiment since the city's embattled leader announced that an unpopular bill was "dead" could not be withdrawn.
Dark Rain Clouds were gathering as the mass of demonstrators marched through the New Territories Sha Tin area, a region in Hong Kong near the Chinese mainland border, and slogans such as "The police knowingly broke the law" and "Fight on, Hong Kong" cried.
As night fell, there was a tense battle between protesters and police in protective clothing. At around 7:00 pm, Ted Hui, a pro-democracy lawmaker, and several Sha Tin local officials cross-legged on the street between the officers and demonstrators and demanded that they talk to the police commander.
When the police attempted to clear the streets around 10:00 pm For the most part, the protesters were scattered and many of them ended up regrouping in a mall. Shortly thereafter, the police moved into the mall and met demonstrators who had filled the floors overlooking the atrium and threw bottles and umbrellas at the officers on the ground floor.
The police beat the demonstrators with batons and kicked them with signs, and officers were seen dragging several of them away. Local TV recordings showed some demonstrators surrounding and kicking a police officer who appeared to be on the ground. Other demonstrators were treated by medics.
According to the Hong Kong Hospital Authority, 28 people were hospitalized for injuries on Sunday. By Monday morning, eight people had been released and two were still in critical condition. A police officer bit off a part of a finger from a demonstrator after he had hit the man in the eye with it.
The Hong Kong government condemned the actions of these demonstrators who blocked roads, attacked police and disrupted peace. "The rule of law is the cornerstone of Hong Kong, and society will absolutely not tolerate such violence," a statement said late Sunday.
Several democracy-oriented lawmakers criticized the police's handling of the demonstration Police officers storming into the mall in full combat gear had caused panic among the demonstrators.
The demonstration in Sha Tin took place one day after clashes between police and demonstrators in a border town in Hong Kong.
] Saturday's protest involved so-called parallel traders crossing the border from the mainland to buy items like baby food and diapers for resale in China – which hurt consumers in Hong Kong, critics say. Two demonstrators were arrested, including for unlawful assembly.
On Sunday morning, before the demonstration began in Sha Tin, hundreds of people took part in a silent march organized by several local journalist associations in the city's financial district to protest something. They say police officers excessively protested during earlier demonstrations Violence against media representatives.
Hong Kong has been shaken since the beginning of June by a wave of mass demonstrations that were triggered by a public uproar over a bill that would have given rise to allowed deliveries to mainland China. Although Carrie Lam, the city's chief executive, suspended the bill, she refused to formally withdraw it.
This is the biggest political crisis in the former British colony since it was under Chinese rule again in 1997.
The complete withdrawal of the extradition law is one of the five main demands of the demonstrators. They also call for universal suffrage (1945-9010), the withdrawal of the government characterization of a June 12 protest as an "uprising," the unconditional release of all arrested demonstrators, and an independent investigation of police violence against protesters. (1965-9002) Ms. Lam has little Willingness to meet the demands of the demonstrators, and both sides seem to have embarked on a summer of unrest in the city.
"This has become a question of political structure. Said Ivan Choy, a senior lecturer in government at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
"Young people can not find a way to change the political situation in Hong Kong and master their own future," Choy said "So they have to come out and go out on the streets or use even more confrontational methods to force the government to pay more attention to their opinion."
The protesters added two local topics on Sunday to the five main demands and called for one End of politically motivated disqualification of candidates for elected office and more open discussion of district-level extradition laws.
However, they differed in their top priorities.
Horus Leung and Matthew Lee, both university students, said they were most concerned about the harsh treatment of protesters by the police.
"The police used to serve the citizens, but now they are a political tool to suppress the protesters' voices," Leung said. 18. "They are not neutral anymore."
Mr. Lee said that although he has been tired after several protests in recent weeks, maintaining the momentum is inevitable.
"If we do not get up now, we will not stand a chance later," he said. "We have no choice – this is our home and we can not go anywhere else."
Others said they would not be satisfied until all the demands of the demonstrators were met.
"Not one of our five demands." may be missing, "said Ip Chuen-mui, 64, a house cleaner and longtime resident of Sha Tin," or we'll go further.
The march in Sha Tin on Sunday was the last attempt of the protesters to post their message and get the movement going.
Over the past week, tens of thousands of protesters in Kowloon, a Hong Kong region, demonstrated to the financial district, where most of the protests took place, took place last month. It was the first major action following the dramatic storming of the city's parliament building by a small group of protesters this month.
In contrast to the democracy-friendly protests that took place in 2014 in Hong Kong, the most recent demonstrations have been remarkably leaderless in nature. Many of the recent marches and gatherings have been organized through online forums and the Telegram News app.
The movement has also introduced decidedly low-tech news strategies in the form of thousands of colorful sticky notes that support the demonstrators and protesters most of their demands. So-called Lennon Walls, named after a monument in Prague dedicated to the singer John Lennon, have appeared in the city in recent weeks.
In recent days, however, there have been brawls when some tried to rip up the displays.