Total Fire and fury

Top News | Stella Wong and Jane Cheung 30 Sep 2019

Stella Wong and Jane Cheung

Police moved to quell an "anti-totalitarianism rally" even before it started, as a day of fire and fury saw an undercover officer shoot at least one live round, raptors and riot officers fire over 180 tear gas canisters and a reporter shot in the eye by a suspected beanbag round.

Hong Kong was at the center of a global "anti-totalitarianism rally" in which 65 cities in 24 countries held marches in support of local protesters by organizing marches of their own yesterday.

But on the 17th weekend of continuous rally in Hong Kong and two days before the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic, police moved well ahead of the illegal assembly from Causeway Bay to the central government offices yesterday.

But the new tactic failed spectacularly.

Netizens who organized the march did not apply for a police permit.

They urged the world to face the threats of China's rule, which they described as "no different from the Nazis," and has "severely violated" common values.

Tear gas was fired on Yee Wo Street near Sogo department store at 2.18pm - more than half an hour of the scheduled starting time for the march - when around 1,000 people gathered there after 1pm.

It was the earliest time of the day police had used tear gas since June 9 - the day the unrest began.

Trouble began after officers arrested a youngster who was on a pavement.

A witness said several water bottles were thrown at police, after which officers started firing around 20 tear gas canisters.

At least four arrests were made in Causeway Bay before the march, including People Power vice president Tam Tak-chi.

But crowds gathered outside Sogo again and hundreds of thousands started marching to the central government offices.

They chanted "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong" and "Five demands, not one less." Some carried US, Taiwanese and a "Hong Kong Independence" banner.

Before 4pm, some burnt banners celebrating the National Day at Queensway. A water cannon vehicle helped put it out.

Riot police arrived and fired over 80 canisters of tear gas and multiple rounds of rubber bullets to disperse the crowd, who in turn threw glass bottles.

Expecting clashes, police deployed two water cannon vehicles at the central government liaison office. A third was stationed at Tamar.

At 4.25pm, the one at Tamar started firing multiple rounds of blue dye that contained pepper after someone threw a molotov cocktail.

Multiple rubber bullets and tear gas were also fired from above the government headquarters.

At 4.45pm, at least nine molotov cocktails were thrown inside the gate of the CGO and caught fire. Protesters also threw dozens of bricks Tamar buildings and broke glass walls.

The special tactical squad, known as Raptor teams, charged and subdued at least a dozen protesters at Harcourt Road.

In Admiralty at 5.15pm, police fired over 40 rounds of tear gas at Queensway outside Fairmount House. Over 10 people were arrested outside Pacific Place.

Protesters then moved to Wan Chai where they set fire at multiple spots, including at a MTR exit near Southorn Playground, outside Novotel Century Hong Kong and on Hennessy Road.

Riot police and raptor teams arrived in Wan Chai firing tear gas, beanbag rounds and at least one bullet.

During the dispersal, a female journalist from Indonesia's Suara was hit in the right eye by a suspected beanbag round on the main Wan Chai pedestrian bridge.

Sources said "undercover police" disguised as protesters were deployed again yesterday, one of whom fired a live warning shot shortly before 6pm when protesters chased after four men in black outfits and holding retractable batons after they suspected they were undercover officers.

Protesters set up road barricades along the Wan Chai section of Hennessy Road before lighting them on fire.

Police pushed forward its defense line alongside a water cannon, which occasionally splashed blue dye to put out fire and disperse protesters.

Protesters then retreated to the direction of Causeway Bay and Tin Hau.

Admiralty, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Tin Hau stations were closed by 7pm.

The Hospital Authority said 13 people were injured, with one, a female, seriously hurt.

More stories: Page 8

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