Thousands take to HK streets in fresh protests

HONG KONG: Police fired tear gas to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday, ending a rare lull in violence, as residents took to the streets.
The protest in the busy shopping district of Tsim Sha Tsui followed a march by hundreds of people to the US consulate to show “gratitude” for US support for the demonstrations that have agitated the city for six months.
Shops and businesses in the area closed early as police sprayed volleys of tear gas at protesters, including some elderly residents and others with their pets, as they marched past the city’s Kowloon waterfront, home to luxury hotels and shopping malls.
Police made several arrests as the tear gas sent hundreds fleeing towards the harbour.
Hong Kong, a major financial hub, had enjoyed relative calm for the past week since local elections last Sunday delivered an overwhelming victory to pro-democracy candidates.
Activists pledged, however, to maintain the momentum of the anti-government movement. Protests in the former British colony since June have at times forced the closure of government offices, businesses, schools and even the international airport. Waving posters that read “Never forget why you started” and black flags with the logo “Revolution now”, protesters occupied several main roads on Sunday, with young residents and families with children filling the nearby streets.
“We had demonstrations, peaceful protests, lobbying inside the council, a lot of things we have done but they all failed,” said Felix, a 25-year-old university graduate.
“There are still five demands,” he said, referring to protesters’ calls that include an independent inquiry into police behaviour
and the implementation of universal suffrage.
Some black-clad protesters wearing gas masks built barricades and blocked roads near luxury stores, including Armani, while others headed towards Hung Hom, a district near the ruined campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
The campus turned into a battleground in mid-November
when protesters barricaded themselves in and faced off riot police in violent clashes of petrol bombs, water cannon and tear gas.
Police withdrew from the university on Friday after collecting evidence and removing dangerous items including thousands of petrol bombs, arrows and chemicals that had been strewn around the site. — Reuters