Police fired tear gas to break up rallies as black-clad activists blocked roads and trashed shopping malls across Hong Kong on the 24th straight weekend of anti-government protests.
Pro-democracy demonstrators vandalised a train station on Sunday in the central new town of Sha Tin in the New Territories region and smashed up a restaurant perceived as being pro-Beijing, overturning tables and smashing glass panels, two weeks before district council elections in the Chinese-ruled city.
Violence also spilled out onto the streets of Tuen Mun outside the “V city” mall with running battles between riot police and protesters.
Police in green fatigues with riot helmets and shields fired tear gas to clear streets in Tsuen Wan in the northwest after chasing protesters in the district’s Citywalk shopping mall.
In Sha Tin in the northeast, authorities closed a subway station after protesters broke windows and damaged a ticket machine. Reporters saw police arrest three men at a residential complex elsewhere in Sha Tin but the reason was not clear.
In Tuen Mun in the northwest, about three dozen people dressed in black, the symbolic colour of the protests, stormed through a shopping mall.
Shopping districts across the harbour on the main island were quiet, however.
“Radical protesters have been gathering in multiple locations across the territories,” police said in a statement.
“They have been loitering in several malls and vandalising shops and facilities therein, neglecting the safety of members of the public.”
Al Jazeera’s Sarah Clarke, reporting from central Hong Kong, said six districts were targeted.
“We had a number of shopping centres damaged, MTRs [mass transit railways] were damaged and some barricades were set on fire by the protesters,” she said. “The police did make some arrests.”
‘Shortfall in policing’
Hong Kong is in the sixth month of anti-government protests that began in June over a proposed extradition law and have expanded to include demands for greater democracy and other grievances.
Although officials formally withdrew the bill, public anger has continued with activists demanding the resignation of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
On Saturday, police announced the arrest of six legislators on charges of obstructing the local assembly during a raucous May 11 meeting over the extradition bill. All were freed on bail.
A seventh legislator received a summons but failed to turn up at the police station, a police spokesman said. All seven are to appear in court on Monday.
Meanwhile, protesters mourned Friday’s death of a university student, Chow Tsz-Lok, who fell from a parking garage when police fired tear gas at protesters.
“A couple hundred” gathered at one of the vigils in central Hong Kong, Clarke reported.
During the five months of anti-government protests, deaths of certain protesters that were ruled suicide have fuelled the conspiracy theories of possible foul play by the police.
Security officials have repeatedly denied using excessive force and refuted any allegations of wrongdoing in relation to Chow’s death.
Protesters have demanded an independent inquiry into police tactics, something Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has refused.
In an embarrassing verdict on Sunday, a five-member international Independent Expert Panel said an analysis of the Hong Kong police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Council, indicated a shortfall in its powers and “independent investigative capability” to look into policing during the protests.
A general strike is planned for Monday with protesters calling on people to block public transport.