HONG KONG—Protesters led riot police on a game of cat and mouse, splitting up and moving throughout the city and blocking traffic, as Hong Kong’s summer of dissent stretched into a 10th weekend.
Hundreds of families gathered near Victoria Harbour to call for Hong Kong’s democratic values to be protected from Beijing’s growing influence, as nearby a pro-Beijing group led supporters to a police station, carrying cards to thank officers for their work in dealing with the protests. At the city’s international airport, protesters packed the arrivals hall and greeted passengers with a peaceful sit-in for a second day.
Clashes broke out by the early evening, as small groups of protesters wearing gas masks blocked roads and tunnels at several spots, before being chased away by police officers with riot shields. Police fired tear gas to disperse them.
At the Tai Wai metro station, in the north of the city, protesters blocked roads with barricades before police fired the first rounds of tear gas. Not long after, hundreds of protesters rushed into the city’s cross-harbor tunnel, scattering traffic cones, trash cans and metal barricades to disrupt traffic, before dispersing.
As protesters quickly disappeared from the busy tourist area of Tsim Sha Tsui, one post on a popular protester forum cheered the action as a successful tactic. “Let’s be water and keep so,” it said.
A Tsim Sha Tsui resident who saw the confrontation between police and protesters said the government had been useless and arrogant. The 50-year-old woman, who originally came from mainland China, said she doesn’t support either side, though she feels bad for the protesters. “I felt heartbroken. They are all young people. And now their future got ruined.”
“Everyone’s been having a tough time,” she said.
The protests this summer reflect the outpouring of public anger at Hong Kong’s government, sparked by an extradition bill that would make it easier for Beijing to prosecute Hong Kong citizens under mainland China’s opaque legal system. The Hong Kong government eventually shelved the bill, declaring it “dead,” but it has yet to formally withdraw it. Frustrations with the government’s handling of the situation, allegations that police have used excessive force while dispersing protesters and demands for democratic overhauls have sustained the protest movement, even as Beijing has signaled its growing intolerance for the dissent.
The huge crowds of hundreds of thousands of protesters at the start of the summer have given way to smaller groups of mobile protests using more-aggressive tactics, such as lighting fires on roads and hurling objects toward police.
Last week, Beijing officials said they strongly supported the actions of Hong Kong police in trying to end the chaos, and asked patriotic citizens in the city to stand up against protesters as well.
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