Cops, protesters clash on cam­pus

Wa­ter can­nons, tear gas first used against protesters

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Ken Morit­sugu

Hong Kong po­lice of­fi­cers be­gan ar­rest­ing anti-gov­ern­ment demon­stra­tors out­side a ma­jor univer­sity.

HONG KONG — Po­lice breached a Hong Kong univer­sity cam­pus held by protesters early Mon­day after an all-night siege that in­cluded fir­ing re­peated bar­rages of tear gas and wa­ter can­nons.

Anti-gov­ern­ment protesters have bar­ri­caded them­selves in­side Hong Kong Polytech­nic Univer­sity for days. Po­lice sur­rounded the area Sunday night and be­gan mov­ing in after is­su­ing an ul­ti­ma­tum for peo­ple to leave the area. The crowd wore rain­coats and car­ried um­brel­las to shield them­selves.

Riot of­fi­cers broke in before dawn as fires raged in­side and out­side the school, but it was un­clear how far the po­lice got. Fiery ex­plo­sions could be seen as protesters re­sponded with cat­a­pult-launched gaso­line bombs. Po­lice, who have warned that ev­ery­one in the area could be charged with ri­ot­ing, re­port­edly made a hand­ful of ar­rests.

At day­break, protesters re­mained in con­trol of most of the cam­pus. In one out­door area, some demon­stra­tors made gaso­line bombs while oth­ers dozed with gas masks on. Two walked about with bows and quiv­ers of ar­rows, while many stared at their smart­phones.

On Sunday, protesters used bows and ar­rows, and one ar­row struck a media li­ai­son officer in the calf.

As riot po­lice moved in from all sides, some protesters re­treated in­side the univer­sity. Oth­ers set fires on bridges lead­ing to it.

A huge blaze burned along much of a long foot­bridge that con­nects a train sta­tion to the cam­pus over the ap­proach to the Cross-Har­bour Tun­nel, a ma­jor road un­der Hong Kong’s har­bor that has been blocked by protesters for days.

The use of weapons threat­ened to es­ca­late the vi­o­lence in the more than five-month anti-gov­ern­ment move­ment. Protesters are try­ing to keep the pres­sure on Hong Kong lead­ers, who have re­jected most of their de­mands.

The protests were sparked by pro­posed leg­is­la­tion that would have al­lowed the ex­tra­di­tion of crim­i­nal sus­pects to the main­land. Ac­tivists saw it as an ero­sion of Hong Kong’s au­ton­omy un­der the “one coun­try, two sys­tems” for­mula im­ple­mented in 1997, when Bri­tain re­turned the ter­ri­tory to China.

The bill has been with­drawn, but the protests have ex­panded into a wider re­sis­tance move­ment against what is per­ceived as the grow­ing con­trol of Hong Kong by Com­mu­nist China, along with calls for full democ­racy for the ter­ri­tory.

Sev­eral hun­dred peo­ple formed a hu­man chain Sunday in cen­tral Hong Kong in a peace­ful rally in sup­port of the move­ment.

Po­lice and protesters faced off all day out­side Polytech­nic after a pitched bat­tle the pre­vi­ous night in which the two sides ex­changed tear gas and gaso­line bombs that left fires blaz­ing in the street.

A large group of peo­ple ar­rived Sunday morning to try to clean up the road but were warned away by protesters. Riot po­lice shot sev­eral vol­leys of tear gas at the protesters, who shel­tered behind a wall of um­brel­las and threw gaso­line bombs into nearby bushes and trees, set­ting them on fire.

The protesters held their ground for most of the day, as wa­ter can­non trucks drove over bricks and nails strewn by protesters to spray them at close range — some with wa­ter dyed blue to help po­lice iden­tify protesters af­ter­ward.

Protesters be­gan re­treat­ing into the univer­sity near sun­set, fear­ing they would be trapped as po­lice ap­proached from other di­rec­tions. The protesters bar­ri­caded the en­trances to the cam­pus and set up nar­row ac­cess con­trol points.

They are the hold­outs from larger groups that oc­cu­pied sev­eral ma­jor cam­puses for much of last week.

An­other group threw bricks in the street to block a main thor­ough­fare in the Mongkok dis­trict, as po­lice fired tear gas to try to dis­perse them. The dis­rup­tion to Nathan Road traf­fic may have been an at­tempt to dis­tract po­lice dur­ing the stand­off at Polytech­nic.

Op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers crit­i­cized the Chinese mil­i­tary for join­ing a cleanup to re­move de­bris from streets near Hong Kong Bap­tist Univer­sity on Satur­day.

Dozens of Chinese troops, dressed in black shorts and olive drab Tshirts, ran out in loose for­ma­tion and picked up paving stones, rocks and other ob­sta­cles that had clut­tered the street.

The mil­i­tary is al­lowed to help main­tain public or­der, but only at the re­quest of the Hong Kong gov­ern­ment. The gov­ern­ment said that it had not re­quested the mil­i­tary’s as­sis­tance, de­scrib­ing it as a vol­un­tary com­mu­nity ac­tiv­ity.

KIN CHE­UNG/AP

A po­lice­man dressed in riot gear de­tains an anti-gov­ern­ment pro­tester early Mon­day out­side of Hong Kong Polytech­nic Univer­sity.

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