Hong Kong Police Move to Clear Protesters at University
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam urged protesters holed up in a Kowloon university to heed police calls to surrender, as activists called for more rallies near the campus to support the trapped demonstrators.
Police and protesters have clashed around Hong Kong Polytechnic University for much of the day, leading to multiple arrests and injuries as dozens tried to flee the area. Running battles have occurred, with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators who threw bricks and Molotov cocktails while hiding behind umbrellas.
The chaotic scenes came as Hong Kong braced for yet more disruption after protests left the city paralyzed much of last week. Demonstrations seeking greater democracy in the Beijing-controlled territory have become increasingly violent in recent weeks, with protesters vandalizing transportation networks and China-friendly businesses as they push for demands including an independent inquiry into police violence and the ability to nominate and elect the city’s leaders.
- Lam decries violence near university
- Official says chaos putting Sunday’s election at risk
- Court rules mask ban is unconstitutional
- Hang Seng Index rises 1.3 per cent despite violence
- Protesters gather in central
- Police urge campus protesters to drop weapons, surrender
Here’s the latest:
Officials warn public to steer clear of PolyU (6:20 p.m.)
Top Hong Kong officials urged the public not to approach or reinforce the PolyU campus amid calls for rallies near the university. Security Secretary John Lee urged those remaining at the campus to surrender to police in an orderly and peaceful manner. He condemned the use of weapons by protesters, including remote-controlled bombs, catapults and petrol bombs.
As the standoff ground on, Matthew Cheung, the city’s No. 2 official, vowed that the government was determined to tackle “deep-seated problems” and that ending violence remained its top priority.
Violence putting election at risk (5:36 p.m.)
The escalating violence in recent days has “reduced the chance of holding” citywide District Council elections as scheduled Sunday, Patrick Nip, secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, told reporters Monday. Nip said staff at polling stations and candidates must feel safe on election day and that people need to be able to get to the polls without disruption.
“Postponing would be a difficult decision,” Nip said, adding that the government wouldn’t take such a step “unless absolutely necessary.”
Lam decries PolyU violence (5:18 p.m.)
Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, decried the chaos around PolyU in a Facebook post Monday, blaming “rioters” for continuing “to escalate the level of violence.” “Police have repeatedly made appeals and people in PolyU campus should listen,” she said.
Protesters call for rallies (5:14 p.m.)
Protesters have called for rallies from 7 p.m. in Tsim Sha Tsui, a location near the university, to support those who are stuck in PolyU.
City’s No. 2 to meet media (5:11 p.m.)
Hong Kong Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung and Secretary for Security John Lee will meet the media at 6 p.m. local time at the government headquarters, according to a statement.
Police tell university protesters to surrender (4:23 p.m.)
Protesters inside PolyU should stop their violence immediately and surrender as the situation is getting “risky,” Cheuk Hau-yip, regional commander of Kowloon West, told reporters at a briefing on Monday. He said all protesters leaving the university would be arrested for participation in a riot.
Police are most concerned about fires being lit as “rioters” charge at them outside PolyU, he said, without giving an estimate on how many protesters are still there. He also said police arrested a group of demonstrators who claimed to be volunteer first aid workers and journalists.
Police said they allowed Red Cross volunteers into the PolyU campus around 2 p.m. to offer medical assistance to those injured. Some of them were brought to the hospital, according to a statement on Facebook.
About 600 still trapped: SCMP (4:07 p.m.)
About 600 people are still trapped on the PolyU campus, the South China Morning Post reported, citing Derek Liu Kin-kwan, president of the university’s student union.
Clashes as protesters flee university (2:05 p.m.)
Police fired tear gas and made arrests as dozens of black-clad protesters ran to escape Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which is under siege by officers. Television images showed police wrestling some protesters to the ground, and at times beating them with batons, while others climbed down trees next to an overpass to avoid arrest.
It was unclear how many protesters remained in the university. Several police appeared to point guns at protesters, but there were no indications that anyone was shot.
Schools to remain closed (1:30 p.m.)
Hong Kong’s Education Bureau said schools will remain closed Tuesday “since there are still unstable factors affecting the roads and traffic conditions and more time should be given for schools to make good preparation for class resumption.” Schools have been suspended since last Thursday on safety concerns. Some primary and secondary schools are expected to resume classes Wednesday, while kindergartens, schools for children with physical disability or intellectual disability will remain closed till Sunday.
Mask ban found unconstitutional (1 p.m.)
A Hong Kong court ruled that the mask ban imposed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s government was incompatible with the Basic Law, the mini-constitution that governs the financial hub. The High Court ruled that the ban, which has been widely ignored by protesters, went further in curbing people’s fundamental rights than the situation warranted.
Hong Kong’s government had invoked a colonial-era Emergency Regulations Ordinance to pass the prohibition on face-coverings, angering protesters and igniting fresh protests. Recent protests have seen thousands of people wearing masks in contravention of the law, and many have been arrested for violating it.
Protesters gather once again in Central (12:45 p.m.)
Protesters, including many professionals and office workers, have started gathering and blocking roads in Hong Kong’s Central financial district. Last week, there were five-straight days of lunch time protests in the heart of Asia’s key financial hub, with many white-collar workers hitting the streets to chant protest slogans. Police fired numerous tear gas volleys in the area last week, sending bystanders and office workers running for cover past the area’s luxury retail outlets.
Goldman Sachs cancels anniversary event (12:30 p.m.)
Goldman Sachs Groups Inc. is postponing a Hong Kong event to mark the firm’s 150th anniversary. The celebration was scheduled to be held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong, but was delayed because of ongoing protests, according to an email the bank sent to attendees.
Police urge protesters to drop weapons (11:46 a.m.)
In a series of Twitter posts, Hong Kong’s police force urged protesters to drop their weapons, remove their gas masks and leave PolyU in an “orderly manner” without making any menacing moves toward officers. A large group of “masked rioters” armed with petrol bombs charged at police cordons around 8 a.m., police said.
Carrie Lam visits officer in hospital (11:30 a.m.)
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam visited an injured police officer at the city’s Kwong Wah Hospital, according to the South China Morning Post, which tweeted a video of her emerging from a hospital building. She declined to take any questions.
Protests block roads in Kowloon (11:10 a.m.)
Small groups of protesters blocked roads in the Jordan and Tsim Sha Tsui areas, not far from the standoff at PolyU. Activists had issued calls on social media for demonstrators to come out to the Kowloon area, as well as Central, to support protesters still at the university. So far, there were no significant crowds in Central.
Military defends clean-up effort (10:35 a.m.)
A spokesman for China’s military defended the decision by the local People’s Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong to come out into the streets Saturday and help clean up from last week’s protests. The soldiers “joined the citizens in clearing these road blocks and their efforts were welcomed by the Hong Kong citizens,” Senior Colonel Wu Qian told a briefing Monday on the sidelines of a regional security meeting in Bangkok.
“Ending violence and restoring order is the most pressing task we have in Hong Kong,” Wu said, citing a similar statement by Chinese President Xi Jinping last week.
Dozens of protesters detained (9 a.m.)
Police detained dozens of protesters in Tsim Sha Tsui East, near the PolyU campus, where clashes have been the most intense in recent hours. At least 30 could been seen on television feeds sitting on the ground with their hands restrained. It was unclear how many protesters and students were still on campus.
Hong Kong's police detained protesters during violent clashes at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University early Monday morning.
City ‘losing patience’: Opposition politician (8:45 a.m.)
Veteran opposition politician Emily Lau said that some Hong Kong residents are getting tired of the mass disruptions, but that many still support the movement’s broader goals.
“Some Hong Kong people have really lost patience with the radical protesters,” Emily Lau, a former chairwoman of the opposition Democratic Party, said on Bloomberg Television. “But there are others who are very sympathetic, who will take to the streets in black to continue to support them. So it is a city that is split asunder.”
Lau stressed that Chief Executive Carrie Lam needed to provide a political solution to break the deadlock before the city’s economy suffers further. A poll released last week by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Program found 83% believed that the government should bear “a large extent” of the responsibility for the escalation in violence, followed by 73.6% for the police and 40.7% for the protesters.
Tear gas fired, students seen running (8:20 a.m.)
Police fired multiple rounds of tear gas to try to disperse black-clad protesters near the junction outside the PolyU campus. Protesters also streamed out of the campus, running across the road to the Hong Kong History Museum and occupying the junction.
Police’s cordon line remains outside Gun Club Hill Barracks, the site of a People’s Liberation Army garrison. Television images showed other protesters holding umbrellas while wandering through the campus streets, which were littered with bricks and other debris.
Thousands trapped; injuries reported (7:48 a.m.)
Thousands remain trapped on campus as police sealed off all exits, local broadcaster RTHK reported, citing the PolyU student union president. Three people with eye injuries are among those wounded, and most of the first aid volunteers have been arrested or taken away, the report said.
No room for compromise, People’s Daily says (7:32 a.m.)
There’s no middle ground or room for compromise on issues related to Hong Kong’s future and sovereignty, the People’s Daily said in a front-page commentary. The official Communist Party publication said the unrest shows that it’s necessary and urgent to improve Hong Kong’s governance system, adding that China won’t allow anyone to challenge the “One China” policy.
Cross-Harbour Tunnel closed (7:18 a.m.)
The Cross-Harbour Tunnel, a main artery linking Kowloon with Hong Kong Island, was closed as the Monday morning commute began due to damage to the administration building and toll booths, the Transport Department said.
Police deny ‘raid’ on university (6:56 a.m.)
In a statement, police said they were conducting a dispersal operation but disputed news reports that they had “raided” the campus. Tear gas was being fired outside the university and fire could be seen in some of the live media feeds. Earlier, a water cannon was used to disperse hundreds of protesters dug in at the school.
Police reportedly enter PolyU (5:30 a.m.)
Hong Kong police moved to disperse protesters at a university in Kowloon after a weekend standoff, multiple reports said, leading to what appeared to be intense clashes as multiple fires burned. Television images showed bursts of flames and loud bangs.
Police fire three live shots (3 a.m.)
A police officer fired three live shots after some protesters attempted to help a 20-year-old Chinese woman arrested for alleged illegal assembly escape from police custody. An initial inquiry showed that nobody was hit, the police said.
Students appeal for help (1:01 a.m.)
Owan Li, a student representative at PolyU, told reporters earlier Monday morning that he didn’t know how many people were still in the school, and made a plea to avoid bloodshed.
“We hope to use this opportunity to tell the Hong Kong people that we need the help from all our friends,” he said. “I really hope that there will be a solution” for the students and staff to leave the campus safely.
Police warn of live fire (11:55 p.m.)
In a briefing, police warned they could use live ammunition if they face attacks while dispersing students at PolyU.
Shot fired as vehicle rams into officer (10 p.m.)
Police superintendent Louis Lau said in a Facebook livestream that an officer fired a live round at a white vehicle when it rammed into some officers near Austin Road, not far away from PolyU.
PolyU calls on students, staff to leave immediately (8:33 p.m.)
University officials called on students and staff to leave campus as soon as possible in order to avoid bloodshed. A letter signed by more than a dozen senior university officials said the school had been “severely and extensively vandalized” and called on activists to avoid violence.
“The unlawful activities and acts of violence inside the campus and in its vicinity have been escalating, including damage to a number of laboratories on campus with the dangerous chemicals inside being taken away,” it said.
--With assistance from Stanley James, Linus Chua, Sebastian Tong, Shelly Banjo, Glen Carey, Fion Li, Shawna Kwan and Karen Leigh.