Scuffles as 10,000s of protesters march in Hong Kong to oppose extradition bill (PHOTOS)
An estimated tens of thousands of residents of Hong Kong surrounded the Chinese-ruled local legislature on Wednesday, voicing unease over an extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China to stand trial there. As the rally grew bigger, some protesters, mostly young people dressed in black, began erecting barricades around the area.
Many of the people have been holding umbrellas, which echo visuals from Hong Kong’s ‘Umbrella Revolution’ of 2014, where they came to symbolize passive resistance to the use of pepper spray by police.
Protesters on Wednesday have also rallied in and around Lung Wo Road, a main east-west motorway running near the offices of embattled Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam. Hundreds of officers, many wearing riot gear and equipped with batons and plastic shields, prepared to stop the crowd’s advance.
As the situation grew tenser, some protesters tried to push inside the city council, moving barricades and throwing umbrellas and other objects at officers. Police fired tear gas and pepper spray, and deployed water cannons in response.
Police reportedly also used rubber bullets as part of their efforts to put down the demonstration, which Hong Kong Police Commission Steven Lo Wai-chung classified as a “riot.”
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government said it will delay the debate on the bill until further notice. The proposed legislation stoked fears that Beijing will be able to use it to target political opponents critical of the Chinese government.
Chinese officials have reiterated that they will continue to support Hong Kong’s government. During a press briefing on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang repeatedly said Beijing backs the extradition bill and warned against meddling in Hong Kong’s domestic affairs.
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