The normally quiet neighborhood of Tai Koo saw tear gas and pepper spray on Thursday night as anti-government protesters demonstrated against a proposed mask ban at public gatherings.
Anti-government protesters unleashed chaos in Hong Kong’s upper middle-class neighbourhood of Tai Koo on Thursday during a second night of citywide rallies, while riot police responded with tear gas and pepper spray.
Rallies planned in 11 sites and major shopping centres followed media reports that the government was to decide on Friday whether to invoke the emergency law to ban the use of face masks in protests.
The sites included Cityplaza in Tai Koo, New Town Plaza in Sha Tin, Yoho mall in Yuen Long, APM mall in Kwun Tong and Popcorn mall in Tseung Kwan O.
The scenes were largely peaceful, except in Tai Koo, where a crowd of angry protesters occupied King’s Road – a main traffic artery on Hong Kong Island – charging at riot police as uniformed officers struggled to return to their vehicles. Pepper spray was deployed, followed later by tear gas at around 10pm. Tear gas was again fired in the same location a little more than an hour later.
The chaos started with a confrontation in the Tai Koo metro station where about 300 protesters faced off with a group of riot police officers.
Later, in the same mall, the Citizens Press Conference – a group that claims to represents the protesters’ voices – said they would stay put despite the enactment of an anti-mask law. A group spokesman said: “We are not afraid. The Carrie Lam regime can’t frighten us off. The pro-government people like to boast that there are also anti-mask laws in overseas countries. It is laughable. Those are democratic countries. How can Hong Kong, a place where there is no democracy, compare with those countries?”
In Yoho mall, more than 200 black-clad masked protesters occupied the atrium of the mall and sang protest songs from 8pm. Afterward, they went to the front of Peking Garden restaurant, a chain under Maxim’s Group, mocking diners. They stayed there for 15 minutes before leaving to cause further disturbance at the mall’s food court, which they claimed was also run by Maxim’s.
No mall security guards were seen intervening.
Protesters targeted the restaurant group after Annie Wu, the daughter of its founder, recently voiced support for police use of tear gas to suppress the violent clashes.
Elsewhere in Tsuen Wan, about 100 protesters rallied in the Sha Tsui Road Playground in Tsuen Wan in support of Tsang Chi-kin, 18, a student at a local secondary school – Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College – who was hit by a live round fired by riot police during violent clashes on October 1.
A “Lennon Wall” created at the college was filled with messages of support from dozens of alumni and neighbours for the Form Five student, who was in stable condition after surgery.