Bol­stered by win at polls, ral­liers seek con­ces­sions

San Francisco Chronicle - - WORLD - By Eileen Ng Eileen Ng is an Associated Press writer.

HONG KONG — Thou­sands of peo­ple took to Hong Kong’s streets Sun­day in a new wave of pro­democ­racy protests, but po­lice fired tear gas af­ter some demon­stra­tors hurled bricks and smoke bombs, break­ing a rare pause in vi­o­lence that has per­sisted dur­ing the six­month­long move­ment.

In the largest of three ral­lies, a key thor­ough­fare along the wa­ter­front on the Kowloon side of Vic­to­ria Har­bour was packed with demon­stra­tors, from hard­ened masked pro­test­ers in all­black out­fits to fam­i­lies and the el­derly. They chanted “Five de­mands, not one less” and “Dis­band the po­lice force” as they marched.

That rally fol­lowed two other marches ear­lier Sun­day as pro­test­ers sought to keep the pres­sure on city leader Car­rie Lam af­ter re­cent vic­to­ries by the pro­democ­racy camp in district coun­cil elec­tions and the gain­ing of U.S. sup­port for their cause.

“If we don’t walk out, the gov­ern­ment will say it’s just a youth is­sue, but this is a Hong Kong prob­lem that af­fects all of us,” Lily Chau, 30, said as she pushed her tod­dler in a stroller at the march in Kowloon. “If we are scared, the gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to tram­ple on our rights.”

The Kowloon march was cut short af­ter riot po­lice fired tear gas and ar­rested sev­eral peo­ple. A po­lice state­ment said min­i­mum force was de­ployed af­ter “hun­dreds of ri­ot­ers hurled smoke bombs” and bricks.

Marchers be­rated po­lice as they scram­bled to flee the tear gas, shout­ing “Dirty cops” and “Are you try­ing to kill us?” Some pro­test­ers dug up paving stones and threw them on the street to try to slow the of­fi­cers.

More tear gas was fired at night af­ter dozens of hard­core pro­test­ers set up road­blocks and van­dal­ized some shops and restau­rants linked to China.

Hong Kong’s protests have been rel­a­tively peace­ful since the Nov. 24 elec­tions, but Sun­day’s dis­rup­tion in­di­cated there may be more vi­o­lence if Lam fails to yield to pro­test­ers’ de­mands.

Lam has said she’ll ac­cel­er­ate di­a­logue but has re­fused to of­fer any new con­ces­sions since the elec­tions. Her gov­ern­ment has ac­cepted only one de­mand — with­draw­ing ex­tra­di­tion leg­is­la­tion that would have sent sus­pects to main­land China for trial.

Elaine Wong, an of­fice worker who was at the Kowloon march, called the re­cent elec­tion win “an empty vic­tory.”

“We have in ac­tual fact not won any con­ces­sions for our de­mands,” she said. “We must con­tinue to stand out to re­mind the gov­ern­ment of our un­hap­pi­ness.”

The two ear­lier marches Sun­day ap­pealed to Pres­i­dent

Trump for help and de­manded that po­lice stop us­ing tear gas. Wav­ing Amer­i­can flags, pro­test­ers marched to the U.S. Consulate to thank Trump for sign­ing into law last week leg­is­la­tion sup­port­ing their cause and urged him to swiftly sanc­tion Lam and other of­fi­cials for sup­press­ing hu­man rights. Some held ban­ners read­ing “Let’s make Hong Kong great again.”

Philip Fong / AFP / Getty Images

Riot of­fi­cers move to dis­perse pro­democ­racy demon­stra­tors gath­ered in Hong Kong. Clashes erupted Sun­day, with po­lice fir­ing tear gas and marchers hurl­ing bricks and smoke bombs.

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