Posted on13 July, 2019 | 08:55

Demonstrators and police clash in Hong Kong

Clashes broke out between police and protesters in Hong Kong on Saturday after thousands took part in a peaceful march in an out-of-town district in Hong Kong.

After the end of the Reclaim Sheung Shui protest against parallel traders who snap up goods such as foreign-made formula milk, medicines and soy sauce for reselling in China, in the town near the mainland border, hundreds of protesters put on goggles, face masks and hard hats and occupied the streets around the train station, which had been cordoned off for the police-sanctioned demonstration .

The scene descended into chaos near a shopping centre shortly after 5pm local time. People rushed to rally outside a community hall, where a police van was parked and a protester was reportedly held by the police. Some dismantled roadside metal barriers and set up makeshift barricades and faced off with police officers on several streets.

Police then raised red warning flags to order protesters to leave immediately. They later used pepper spray several times to disperse the crowds and beat some of the protesters with truncheons, who in turn used umbrellas to defend themselves.

Nasty police! Shame on you!” protesters chanted.

A witness said he saw at least a dozen people injured by pepper spray and one person was bleeding after being beaten by a police baton.

Many shops popular with parallel traders and mainland tourists closed in Sheung Shui, fearing being targeted by protesters. Some protesters took their anger out on a Bank of China branch, which they spray-painted, while others besieged a medicine shop, which was forced to close.

The scene had calmed down somewhat by 8pm, when most of the protesters were leaving, but more than a hundred police officers in riot gear suddenly appeared at 8.10. Police went on to several streets and footbridges, apparently looking for protesters, and used loudhailers to stop some demonstrators from using laser light beams to target them.

Many interviewed by the Guardian said the millions-strong anti-extradition protests during the past month became a lightning rod for them.

“Restore Sheung Shui to its former glory,” “Restore our serenity” and “Kick out parallel traders,” shouted many at the march earlier in the day.

They said they resented the government for having turned a blind eye to the border town being overrun with parallel traders for more than a decade. They accused them of filling the streets with cardboard boxes of commodities and leaving behind piles of rubbish, while neighbourhood shops were squeezed out of business due to high rents and replaced by shops selling goods popular with mainland tourists and traders.

“The anti-extradition protests have heightened our awareness over community issues, instead of waiting for the government to do something, we may as well take it in our own hands,” said Vincent Yeung, a man in his 20s.

Others described the huge anti-extradition protests as “an awakening” to remind them that China is also eroding Hong Kong’s way of life.

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A supporter begs police officers not to attack protesters in Sheung Shui, Hong Kong on Saturday. Photograph: Kin Cheung/AP editorial




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