Mob Attack, Clashes Rock Hong Kong Following Citywide Strike

August 5, 2019 Updated: August 5, 2019

Clashes broke out between police and protesters across Hong Kong on Aug. 5 after scores of citizens held a general strike that paralyzed the city’s trains and airlines.

Hongkongers escalated their protests to oppose the government’s handling of the extradition bill crisis.

After air traffic controllers and train staff took days off, at least 200 flights were canceled on Monday morning, while several metro rail lines were temporarily suspended. Protesters also occupied major thoroughfares in busy central districts.

Throughout the day, police used tear gas to disperse protesters who occupied streets in at least seven districts, including Tin Shui Wai, Wong Tai Sin, Admiralty, Tai Po, Tsuen Wan, Sham Shui Po, and Tsim Sha Tsui. A journalist was injured in the eye by tear gas bullets, while another was briefly detained after engaging in an argument with the police over the first journalist’s injury, according to local media.

The bill, which would allow mainland China to seek extradition of criminal suspects, has sparked widespread fears that the Chinese communist regime would be allowed to transfer anyone at will to face trial in its opaque legal system. In recent weeks, as clashes between police and protesters continued to roil the city, many have demanded investigations into police use of force and greater universal suffrage.

Around 8:00 p.m., a mob of stick-wielding, white-shirted men rushed into the North Point neighborhood, in the northeastern part of town, and attacked black-clad protesters. Videos circulating online show that protesters fought back with objects they could reach at hand, hurling their plastic shields and traffic cones, eventually cornering the attackers into a building. It remains unclear where these men came from.

The scene was reminiscent of an earlier mob attack at the Yuen Long metro station on July 21, when masked men who also wore white shirts beat up passengers indiscriminately with wooden and metal sticks, causing at least 45 injuries. The police did not arrive at the scene until about 40 minutes after the attack, fueling public outrage as Hongkongers blamed police for the delayed response and leniency toward the assailants, whom police have confirmed were linked to local triads.

Around the same time on Monday evening in the Tsuen Wan district, dozens of men in pale blue shirts imprinted with the words: “I Love Hong Kong” were spotted engaging in scuffles with the protesters, who eventually drove them away. A witness told Stand News that his friend was attacked in the head and sustained heavy bleeding, while locals discovered a package of blue shirts of the same design lying in a park nearby. The package originated from Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province in mainland China, according to the shipping label.

Earlier in the morning, as protesters set up barricades on a road in Yuen Long, a car suddenly charged toward them at high speed. The car crashed through the barriers and continued on its way. In video footage from the incident, a number of protesters appeared to have been hit. But police said that there were no injuries and would investigate the incident, according to local media.

At least one of the Hong Kong police’s six new anti-riot armor vehicles was deployed for the first time on Monday night, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported. The Mercedes-Benz Unimog U5000 models were purchased in 2010 for HK$30 million (about $3.8 million), which can emit powerful sonic waves and possess an electrified exterior, according to SCMP.

At a 4 p.m. press conference , police announced that over 1,000 cans of tear gas together with 160 rubber bullets had been fired since June 9, when mass protests against the extradition bill first began. They had also arrested 420 protesters.

Follow Eva on Twitter: @EvaSailEast
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