As clashes erupt, marchers urge Trump to ‘lib­er­ate’ Hong Kong

The Morning Call - - NATION & WORLD - By Eileen Ng and Alice Fung

HONG KONG — Thou­sands of demon­stra­tors in Hong Kong urged Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to “lib­er­ate” the semi­au­tonomous Chi­nese ter­ri­tory dur­ing a peace­ful march to the U.S. Con­sulate on Sun­day, but vi­o­lence broke out later in the busi­ness and re­tail district as po­lice fired tear gas af­ter pro­test­ers van­dal­ized sub­way sta­tions, set fires and blocked traf­fic.

Demon­stra­tors flooded a park in cen­tral Hong Kong, chant­ing “Re­sist Bei­jing, Lib­er­ate Hong Kong” and “Stand with Hong Kong, fight for free­dom.” Many of them, clad in black shirts and wear­ing masks, waved Amer­i­can flags and car­ried posters that read “Pres­i­dent Trump, please lib­er­ate Hong Kong” as they marched to the U.S. Con­sulate nearby.

“Hong Kong is at the fore­front of the bat­tle against the to­tal­i­tar­ian regime of China,” said Panzer Chan, one of the or­ga­niz­ers of the march. “Please sup­port us in our fight.”

Hong Kong’s gov­ern­ment promised this past week to for­mally with­draw the bill, but that failed to ap­pease the demon­stra­tors, who have widened their de­mands to in­clude calls for di­rect elec­tions for the city’s lead­ers and an in­de­pen­dent probe into al­leged po­lice bru­tal­ity against pro­test­ers.

The un­rest has be­come the big­gest chal­lenge to Bei­jing’s rule since Hong Kong’s re­turn from Bri­tain. Bei­jing and the en­tirely state-con­trolled me­dia have por­trayed the protests as an ef­fort by crim­i­nals to split the ter­ri­tory from China, backed by hos­tile for­eign­ers.

Pro­test­ers on Sun­day urged Wash­ing­ton to pass a bill, known as the Hong Kong Demo­cratic and Hu­man Rights Act, to sup­port their cause. The bill pro­poses sanc­tions against Hong Kong and Chi­nese of­fi­cials found to sup­press democ­racy and hu­man rights in the city, and could also af­fect Hong Kong’s pref­er­en­tial trade sta­tus with the U.S.

A group of pro­test­ers sang “The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner” be­fore hand­ing over an ap­peal let­ter to a U.S. Con­sulate of­fi­cial.

Just be­fore the rally ended, vi­o­lence erupted af­ter riot po­lice de­tained sev­eral peo­ple and cleared a crowd from the nearby Cen­tral sub­way sta­tion. An­gry pro­test­ers smashed glass win­dows, sprayed graf­fiti and started a fire at one at the sta­tion’s ex­its.

The gov­ern­ment said pro­test­ers also set street fires and blocked traf­fic at some thor­ough­fares. In the type of cat-and-mouse bat­tle that has char­ac­ter­ized the sum­mer-long protests, riot po­lice pur­sued groups of pro­test­ers down streets, but they kept re­group­ing.

Po­lice fired mul­ti­ple rounds of tear gas in the Cause­way Bay shop­ping area af­ter pro­test­ers heck­led them and re­fused to leave. They also searched dozens of young peo­ple on the street and in­side sub­way sta­tions.

At the Mong Kok po­lice sta­tion, clashes took place for a third straight night. Po­lice fired pro­jec­tiles at an an­gry crowd that was shin­ing laser beams, and sev­eral peo­ple were de­tained.

Some Amer­i­can leg­is­la­tors are press­ing Trump to take a tougher stand on Hong Kong. But the pres­i­dent has sug­gested that it’s a mat­ter for China to han­dle, though he also has said that no vi­o­lence should be used.

KIN CHEUNG/AP

A U.S. Con­sulate rep­re­sen­ta­tive is given a let­ter dur­ing a march Sun­day urg­ing Pres­i­dent Trump to “lib­er­ate” Hong Kong as pro­test­ers press for more demo­cratic free­doms.

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