Fresh political violence broke out in Hong Kong Sunday evening as riot police baton-charged protesters in a bid to disperse demonstrators following another massive rally, an AFP reporter on the scene said.
Protesters used umbrellas to defend themselves from the charge in the district of Mongkok, which began after a tense 20-minute standoff on a main thoroughfare.
Police using loudhailers had called for a group of some 300 mostly young, masked protesters to leave.
It was not immediately clear what prompted the charge by officers but the renewed scenes of chaos on the city’s streets marred a day that witnessed another huge, peaceful anti-government protest.
Hong Kong has been rocked by a month of huge marches as well as a series of separate violent confrontations with police, sparked by a law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.
The bill has since been postponed in response to the intense backlash but that has done little to quell public anger, which has evolved into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms in the semi-autonomous city.
AFP reporters saw multiple protesters detained by police on Sunday after the fracas, their wrists bound with plastic handcuffs.
The crowds responded with chants of “release the people” and “black cops” — a pun on the phrase “black societies” which is used to describe triad gangs.
Anger towards police has soared in recent weeks after riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets last month to clear protesters.
On Monday, a group of masked youth-led protesters stormed and ransacked the city’s parliament.
Sunday night’s clashes took place on Shantung Street, an area of the city that is no stranger to standoffs between protesters and police.
During the more than two-month long pro-democracy protests in 2014, fights frequently broke out between riot police and protesters there, and in the Mongkok district more broadly.
Mongkok was also the location for violent clashes in 2016 sparked by a police attempt to clear unlicensed street vendors, an event that came to be known as “The Fishball Revolution.”