Hong Kong Police on Saturday fired tear gas and rubber bullets to scatter large crowds of protesters demanding action against suspected triad gangs who beat up pro-democracy demonstrators last weekend.
Thousands of people marched through a town in the New Territories close to the border with mainland China, defying a police ban amid concerns about reprisal attacks.
Some protesters chanted anti-police slogans such as “black police” and “know the law, break the law.”
Clashes erupted later when riot police tried to disperse protesters at several flash points in the northwestern town of Yuen Long.
Police fired dozens of rounds of tear gas and pepper spray and some demonstrators retaliated by throwing projectiles at officers.
Watching livestream and seeing helmets and hardhats have replaced umbrellas to become the symbol of #hongkongprotests; tear gas, pepper spray, batons, face masks becoming the norm – very worrying and saddening. #antiELAB #YuenLong pic.twitter.com/Z7cITqmDJM
— Cherie Chan 陳卓妍 (@cheriechancy) July 27, 2019
In other locations, protesters built barricades from sidewalk railings to prevent police from moving forward.
Saturday’s rally marked the eighth consecutive week of protests in the former British colony. The demonstrations first erupted last month in opposition to plans by the local government to allow the extradition of suspected criminals to China.
The mainland’s justice system is widely criticised as lacking independence and respect for human rights.
Those marches saw more than a million people take to the streets, prompting the territory’s leader, Carrie Lam, to put the proposed bill on hold.
Since then, the movement has grown to include demands for direct elections, the dissolution of the current legislature, an investigation into police brutality and less Chinese interference in Hong Kong affairs.
The movement’s leaders have however failed to persuade Beijing or Hong Kong’s leaders to change course amid clashes with police and the storming of Hong Kong’s parliament in early July by some protesters.
The United Kingdom handed Hong Kong to China in 1997 as part of an agreement that included Beijing’s pledge to respect the territory’s semi-autonomous status until 2047.