There was always a risk the city would be plunged into chaos and violence again if advantage could not be taken of the relatively calm atmosphere over the past two weeks to resolve the political crisis. So, at the weekend, many Hongkongers watched with regret as peaceful protests once again descended into clashes, with a group of radical protesters vandalising shops and exits to train stations while police fired tear gas and made arrests. Resolving the six-month stalemate will become even more difficult should tensions escalate. Radicals are frustrated that their calls have not been heard a week after pan-democrats swept the district council elections following the outcry over the government’s handling of the now-withdrawn extradition bill. While vandalism and arson can never be justified as a means to an end, to hope violence will die down by itself is just wishful thinking. Although accusations abound as to who is to blame for the latest confrontation, such finger-pointing does not help restore relations between the police force and the public. Protesters back on Hong Kong’s streets in tens of thousands as radicals trash shops Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the election results would give her cause to reflect, but it appears she is not prepared to appoint an independent inquiry into the actions of police, one of the protesters’ key demands. Instead, she has opted for what she calls an independent review committee, which presumably will focus more on deep-seated problems leading to the unrest rather than alleged police brutality and other immediate issues. A parallel study by the statutory police complaints watchdog has already been criticised for lacking teeth. It is difficult to see how a review lacking investigative power over police operations may calm the situation. The public cannot help compare the protests here with those in a southern city on the mainland. The authorities in Huazhou, Guangdong province, swiftly suspended a controversial crematorium project in the town of Wenlou following two days of clashes between riot police and locals. But it took Lam months to formally withdraw the deeply unpopular extradition bill. Up to now, she has yet to fully address people’s discontent. The sociopolitical environment of the two places and the circumstances of the incidents are vastly different, but the mainland case illustrates how public grievances can be addressed promptly. No one wants violence to return to Hong Kong. While vandalism and arson can never be condoned or justified, they cannot be curbed by condemnation and heavy-handed enforcement alone. Protesters must be reminded that prolonged radicalism is damaging social stability and the economy, and will risk losing public sympathy in the long run. It is also incumbent for Lam to address people’s aspirations with more effective solutions.