One week after Sheung Wan was rocked by clashes, protesters and riot police fought pitched battles in the neighbourhood again on Sunday night.

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Protesters are enveloped by tear gas let off by police during a demonstration against a controversial extradition bill in Hong Kong on July 28, 2019. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.

Police fired numerous rounds of tear gas, rubber bullets, sponge grenades and pepper spray during the Western district clearance operation. As of 10pm, four men were hospitalised due to injuries.

“In recent months, this is the most serious conflict that I’ve ever seen. And I don’t understand why they chose tonight to really attack protesters with a lot of rubber bullets and tear gas, and I don’t see the urgency,” lawmaker Ted Hui told HKFP, who was on the frontlines. Hui said that the violence was coming from the police side.

Police were seen making multiple arrests throughout the night, though the exact figure is not yet known.

In a statement issued early Monday morning, the government said it “strongly condemn[s] the radical protesters who disregarded the law and order and violently breached the public peace.”

“Some radical protesters acted violently in parts of Sheung Wan and Western District, including hurling bricks at police officers, committing arson and pushing towards the police cordon line a cart with burning cardboards, threatening the safety of police officers and members of the public,” the statement read.

The government also “expressed regret” over a street occupation in Causeway Bay, where it said damaged public property and obstructed traffic.

Police said at around 9pm that they were dispersing people on Hong Kong Island as “some protesters committed arson at various locations.” The force also condemned violence and said protesters should leave the scene.

“In the vicinity of Western Market in Sheung Wan, some protestors set ablaze a cart with miscellaneous objects and pushed them towards Police cordon line, seriously threatening the safety of everyone at the scene,” the statement read said.

Multiple protest hotspots

Hong Kong saw spontaneous demonstrations against police violence on Sunday, with protesters gathering at Causeway Bay, Central, Wan Chai, Sheung Wan and Sai Wan throughout the afternoon.

Police had banned a protest march intended for Sheung Wan, only allowing protesters to gather at a rally at Central’s Chater Garden.

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Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

However, attendees left the venue shortly after 3pm and began a roaming protest across the island, occupying roads as they marched.

Ventus Lau, one of the organisers of the authorised rally in Central said on Sunday night that the police “opened up the path for the public to march,” which resulted in “10,000 cases of lawful marches which were made up of groups of less than 30 people, taking different routes.”

Lau also condemned the police for their clearance operation, which he said was akin to “war crimes” as they hurt journalists and even children.

While the large-scale street occupation in Causeway Bay was mostly left alone, riot police were deployed in force around Sheung Wan at around 5pm on Sunday.

Clearance operations

Some 200 protesters made their way towards Sai Wan’s China Liaison Office – where a week before, protesters engaged in acts of vandalism, defacing the Chinese emblem on the building’s facade.

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Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Police fired the first tear gas rounds shortly before 7pm, and gradually pushed protesters to the east and away from the Liaison Office.

july 28 china extradition sheung wan
Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The Special Tactical Squad – also known as the “Raptors” – made lightning raids into the ranks of protesters, resulting in multiple arrests on Des Voeux Road. Police officers were seen manhandling some protesters who had already been subdued.

According to Initium, police also said at one point that ambulances could only enter a protest zone if they granted them permission.

At around 8:45pm, protesters were seen setting fire to a cart loaded with recycled cardboard paper, and pushing it in the direction of police lines.

Police used numerous rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds, both on Connaught Road West and Des Voeux Road West.

Some protesters took refuge in Sheung Wan MTR station, and sprayed water from a firehose to keep police from entering one of the exits. In response, riot police outside the station used pepper spray and directed it to protesters inside.

Later in the night, staff members of the IFC shopping mall in Central reportedly denied entry to police officers. Earlier this month, the New Town Plaza mall in Sha Tin drew criticism for allowing riot police to enter to pursue protesters.

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.