Hong Kong Police Fire Tear Gas, Storm Shopping Mall, After Protesters Gather

September 22, 2019 Updated: September 22, 2019

HONG KONG—Hong Kong police fired tear gas on Sept. 22 to break up pro-democracy protesters who trashed fittings at a railway station and shopping mall, the latest confrontation in more than three months of unrest.

It was the biggest of several clashes across the city, most taking place in or near Mass Transit Railway (MTR) subway stations, now a familiar target of attack.

Hundreds of protesters, young and old, had gathered in the New Town Plaza in the New Territories town of Sha Tin, chanting: “Fight for freedom” and “Liberate Hong Kong.”

The protests began in opposition to an extradition bill that many saw as an example of China’s creeping interference in Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula intended to guarantee freedoms that are not enjoyed on the mainland.

Protesters called for a boycott of businesses seen as pro-Beijing and made a paper chain of receipts from those stores, which were then hung across the mall.

Activists rounded on a man believed to have opposed them when they had trampled on the Chinese flag. Shouting, they pushed him into a corner beside the station and cheered as crowds punched and kicked him.

After 20 minutes, he managed to walk away, dazed and bleeding from the forehead. Protesters also smashed video cameras and ticket booths in the station.

Some started to trash fittings at the entrance of the mall. The protesters then spilled outside where they set fire to barricades made of cardboard, broken palm trees, and other debris.

Police fired tear gas after coming under attack from bricks dug up from pathways.

Violence has hit parts of the former British colony at different times over the last three months, but life goes on as normal for most people most of the time.

MTR Targeted

There was also a noisy standoff between protesters and police at the Tsing Yi interchange station, which serves the Airport Express and the MTR.

There were also scuffles at the Kwai Fong MTR, near Tsing Yi. Activists lit a street fire outside the Prince Edward MTR station, north of the Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district, where police said they would use tear gas to disperse them.

Police closed Kowloon station, also on the Airport Express route, where about 400 protesters had gathered, shouting abuse and vandalizing property.

Protest violence has often targeted the MTR, which is blamed for closing stations at the government’s behest to stop demonstrators from gathering.

Protesters are also demanding that the MTR hand over CCTV footage of police beating protesters on a train at Prince Edward station as they cowered on the floor, smartphone footage of which went viral online.

On Saturday, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters during a police-approved march in the Tuen Mun district. There were violent clashes between pro-Beijing and pro-democracy crowds elsewhere in the city.

Police condemned the violence and said there had been many serious injuries in clashes between people of “different views.”

On Sunday, police earlier prevented a protest targeting the airport.

Pro-democracy protesters have targeted the airport before, occupying the arrivals hall, blocking approach roads and setting street fires in the nearby town of Tung Chung.