Hundreds of protesters repeated their strategy of impromptu street protests on Saturday evening, playing cat-and-mouse with police around the streets of Kowloon.
Earlier in the day, demonstrators marched from To Kwa Wan to Whampoa despite rainy weather.
The march adopted a new, shorter route after police expressed objection to the initial plans.
“Reclaim Hung Hom and To Kwa Wan, give me back my peaceful community,” some protesters chanted.
The protest was originally meant to focus on community issues, as some residents complained of the effect of mainland tourists – including traffic hazards and the impact on local businesses.
However, the theme of the march evolved to match the public outcry on issues such as government accountability and the police use of force.
Starting from around 3:30pm, thousands marched from Hoi Sham Park in To Kwa Wan to the Whampoa MTR station.
During the protest, some participants vandalised the branch offices of the pro-Beijing DAB party, as well as the Federation of Trade Unions (FTU).
Some protesters hurled eggs at the premises as crowds passed.
Pineapples – which in Cantonese could be slang for homemade explosives – were placed outside the FTU office, as a critique of the party’s historical involvement in the leftist riots of 1967.
Shortly after the first group of protesters reached the approved destination, around 100 of them turned back and headed towards Kowloon City.
They then moved to Mong Kok, taking over sections of Nathan Road as they walked south to Jordan.
“We will continue to cause disturbances and start non-cooperation movements until the government responds,” one protester surnamed Lai told HKFP.
Meanwhile, some protesters engaged in a standoff against police in riot gear at Mong Kok police station.
Protesters threw eggs and other objects at the building’s exterior and shone laser pointers.
Police officers who stood guard at the station’s entrance often had to duck behind their shields to avoid projectiles.
Shortly after 7pm, riot police arrived at the scene and began clearance operations.
The bulk of police manpower was deployed on Nathan Road, though many protesters had already retreated into the side streets.
A police officer was seen firing a beanbag round after someone allegedly threw a trash can at advancing officers from a pedestrian flyover.
Three second clip of Hong Kong police apparently firing bean bag rounds at jeering crowds who threw ice and stuff on the police vehicles in mong kok – cheers @HongKongHermit and @tomgrundy / excuse the brevity – none appeared injured pic.twitter.com/CBTVUIWF2d
— Erin Hale (@erinhale) August 17, 2019
“Tonight there’s not really any point in clashing. We need a stronger numerical advantage to have a fighting chance,” said one protester who did not wish to be identified.
Riot police ended their clearance operation after arriving in Yau Ma Tei, with relatively few head-to-head clashes between police and protesters.
Police have not announced any injuries or arrests as of 9:40pm on Saturday.
The reporting room service of Mong Kok, Hung Hom and Tsim Sha Tsui police stations were temporarily suspended, and some shops in the neighbourhood drew their shutters.
The clearance operation provoked the ire of some passers-by, who chanted “black cops” and “triad” at the officers.
At the To Kwa Wan march, one common slogan was “818” – a reference to the rally planned for Victoria Park the next day.
Sunday’s rally will act as a show of strength and an important gauge of public opinion, a protester told HKFP.
Hong Kong has been rocked by over two months of anti-government demonstrations and unrest, as protesters demand a full withdrawal of the ill-fated extradition law bill. Demonstrators are asking for a complete withdrawal of the city’s controversial extradition bill, as well as universal suffrage and an investigation into alleged police brutality.