Hong Kong police fire tear gas, water cannon as violence flares after protesters defy ban


HONG KONG — Violence erupted once again in Hong Kong Sunday as thousands of protesters marched through the Chinese territory in defiance of a police ban.

Hundreds of protesters targeted a government office complex in the downtown area, throwing bricks and Molotov cocktails through police barriers.

Police responded by firing volleys of tear gas and rubber bullet rounds. They also used a water cannon to spray blue-dyed water, in a repeat of confrontational scenes that have marked the last few weeks of the demonstrations.

Protesters react as police fire water cannons outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Sunday.ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP – Getty Images

Protests have roiled the semi-autonomous Chinese city for months, sparked by a controversial extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be sent to mainland China for trial.

The bill has since been withdrawn by Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, but the protests have continued after morphing into a broader rejection of China’s growing influence and its impact on the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong citizens.

Thirty-four-year-old banker, Jess, who did not want to provide her last name out of fear of prosecution, said the protest movement is now about “fighting for our future.”

“If Carrie Lam decided to withdraw [the bill] back in June, maybe the movement would end,” she said.

“After all the unreasonable beatings and massive arrests of protesters and citizens, we need to step up to fight against this government. A government who works against its people.”

An anti-government protester prepares to throw a Molotov cocktail during a demonstration in Hong Kong, China on Sunday.TYRONE SIU / Reuters

The ongoing unrest is seen as an embarrassment to China, which has accused foreign powers of fomenting the protests.

Many in Hong Kong worry that if the demonstrations persist to Oct. 1, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, it could incite a harsh reaction from leaders in Beijing who will not want to see nationwide celebrations marred by dissent.

Matt Bradley and Associated Press contributed.

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