By China Daily Hong Kong
Asia News Network
Police clashed with anti-extradition law protesters in Sha Tin on Sunday — the second such demonstration in two days — forcing most shops in two major shopping centers in the district to shut down, and more than 40 bus routes to be suspended or diverted.
According to a China Daily reporter at the scene, about 40 percent of the shops along the protest route had to close, as well as a public swimming pool and several public sports facilities.
Protesters resorted to prying bricks off pavements and putting up makeshift barricades by dismantling railings from sidewalks to fend off the police, as masked protesters used umbrellas to prevent themselves from being filmed by the media.
By 5 pm, a large number of protesters, who came fully prepared with goggles and masks, had deviated from the main crowd of peaceful protesters and tried to occupy one of the roads.
The Sha Tin protest came a day after thousands of people marched against parallel traders in the northern district of Sheung Shui. Violent scenes erupted when radical masked protesters used iron poles in battling with the police, and some assaulted officers using powdery substances, leading to 16 officers being injured. Several shops were forced to close early, and some vandalized.
“The protesters were highly organized and a large amount of equipment was distributed,” the police said in a statement issued after the clashes.
In an open letter to the public, the Hong Kong Police Inspectors’ Association — one of the four police groups — said the series of protests in the past few weeks have undermined the city’s rule of law, and have gone out of control. It said police officers were challenged, pushed and even attacked while trying to deal with the demonstrations.
Appealing for a return of peace and order in society, the association urged the public to support the police in carrying out their duties under the law.
The guerilla-styled protests in the past few weeks have strained police manpower, with many more planned in almost every ensuing week, according to information distributed online.
The association said officers, although having worked overtime and hurled with baseless accusations, pledged to continue serving Hong Kong.
Several media groups also took to the streets on Sunday to demand press freedom. In response, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and the police said they have all along respected press freedom and the media’s right of reporting.
Calling it an “unprecedented” situation, the police advised members of the media to take care of their personal safety, especially during chaotic and dangerous scenes when protesters clash violently with the police.