A riot police officer is seen in Tuen Mun, Hong Kong, China September 21, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
A riot police officer is seen in Tuen Mun, Hong Kong, China September 21, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Hong Kong police fire tear gas to break up protesters

Sat, Sep. 21, 2019
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong police fired tear gas to disperse democracy protesters marching in sweltering heat on Saturday after pro-China groups pulled down some of the “Lennon Walls” of anti-government messages in the Chinese-ruled city.

The first volley was fired when protesters hurled two petrol bombs toward an approaching police line.

The marchers had converged on the town of Tuen Mun, in the west of the New Territories, where some set fire to a Chinese flag as others tore down wooden and metal fences and traffic bollards to build road blocks, at least one of which was set alight.

Some trashed fittings at the Light Rail Transit station, dug up bricks and picked up stones from the sides of the tracks. Others turned fire extinguishers on the police.

Many shops closed their shutters, and police made several arrests.

“Radical protesters damaged facilities in Light Rail Town Centre Station in Tuen Mun with metal rods, hurled objects into the Light Rail tracks and set barricades in the vicinity, causing obstruction to the traffic,” police said in a statement.

“Radical protesters also threw petrol bombs, posing a serious threat to the safety of others and police officers.”

Hundreds of protesters retreated from the lines of riot police when the tear gas was fired, many sprinting across a highway to regroup and block more roads.

Some dissipated into malls and side-streets.

Dozens of Beijing supporters had earlier torn down some of the large mosaics of colorful Post-it notes calling for democracy and denouncing perceived Chinese meddling in the former British colony which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

“I am a Chinese man!” one the pro-Beijing protesters shouted in defense of his actions when confronted by pro-democracy supporters.

The walls have blossomed across the Asian financial center, at bus stops and shopping centers, under footbridges, along pedestrian walkways and at universities.

They have also occasionally become hot spots of violence in more than three months of unrest.
 
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