A dangerous gameTop News | Stella Wong and Angel Kwan 23 Sep 2019
Protesters played a London Bridge is Falling Down game yesterday while they trampled on the national flag as thousands disrupted shopping in a Sha Tin mall.
Police fired tear gas in the evening after protesters set fire to barricades outside the New Town Plaza.
Protesters adopted another tactic in their 16th weekend of protests, this time hitting shops in V Walk at Nam Cheong Station, Citygate near Tung Chung Station, Maritime Square at Tsing Yi Station and Elements at Kowloon Station.
Starting at noon, tens of thousands gathered at New Town Plaza in response to online calls to protest against the mall for allowing police entry on July 15, when 22 were hospitalized and at least 40 arrested.
People chanted slogans and sang Glory to Hong Kong with a small string band in the atrium. Some folded paper birds to create a larger installation symbolizing freedom.
Restaurants under Maxim's Group were targeted, including Starbucks, simplylife, Jade Garden and Peking Garden, after the family running the group made anti-extradition protest comments.
Annie Wu Suk-ching, the daughter of Maxim's founder, had spoken at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Protesters clicked at least 1,000 times on a table-reserving machine outside Jade Garden. They stuck the table tickets on its storefront.
Others dangled a tickertape of tickets from the eighth floor down to the atrium on the third floor, and across the atrium up to the higher levels.
A Huawei shop, a Best Mart 360 store, Starbucks and Heytea pulled down shutters as protesters put stickers with a cross of a police baton and a gun on "777" - the number of votes Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor received as chief executive - reading "Support government officials and police force" on their storefronts.
Protesters also went to the nearby MTR-owned Citylink Plaza and chanted slogans urging people to boycott shopping at MTR malls.
At about 4pm, protesters took down a national flag outside Sha Tin Town Hall and brought it to New Town Plaza.
They placed the flag on the atrium floor, next to the graffiti "Chinazi." Dozens started running in circles and stepping on the flag in the playground game for about 10 minutes.
Then some sprayed black paint on the flag and tore it with long umbrellas. They then threw it down a footbridge outside the mall.
Some then dumped it into a rubbish bin, which was later pushed into a pool at Sha Tin Park. Others picked up the flag and threw it into Shing Mun River.
A man suffered a head injury at New Town Plaza when he was beaten and kicked by protesters after an argument.
Sun Hung Kai Properties strongly condemned protesters' acts - ignoring employees' calls not to disturb tenants and customers, destroying facilities and damaging a national flag.
Elsewhere, dozens of protesters vandalized facilities at Sha Tin MTR station including gates, ticket issuing machines and security cameras.
Riot police arrived 10 minutes later. Protesters quickly retreated and the MTRC closed the station. Other protesters also set up road blocks and burned objects on Yuen Wo Road outside Lucky Plaza.
Riot police arrived and subdued a young man. Protesters threw many objects at police. At 5.55pm, police raised the black flag at least three times. They also raised an orange flag at 6.01pm to warn people to "disperse or we fire" to those on higher levels at Shatin Centre throwing objects at police.
Some continued to do so, including bricks and a petrol bomb. Tear gas and sponge grenades were fired. When the Special Tactical Squad arrived, protesters dispersed toward Sha Tin Town Hall and Sha Tin Park.
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters caused most stores at V Walk in Nam Cheong to shut their gates.
They surrounded Best Mart 360, which they said is owned by "Fujian triads," as well as a restaurant and a bakery under the Maxim's Group.
A masked protester calling herself Justice said: "We want to do it with proper rallies and marches, but the government banned us from those. What else can we do?"
Kwok, who claimed to be a resident nearby, said: "It's okay for me if they don't destroy things in the mall but it would be better if they could target the government instead of the merchants."
Protesters later left the mall and headed to Elements to support other protesters.