Hong Kong police made more than 370 arrests on Wednesday, deploying the water cannon truck and firing rounds of tear gas against pro-democracy protesters.
Police also fired pepper balls in Causeway Bay during cat-and-mouse chases with demonstrators.
The unrest came after the passing of Beijing’s national security law for the city.
Critics say the legislation, which criminalises secession, subversion, foreign interference and terrorism, will gag the city’s remaining freedoms and stomp out political dissent.
Crowds defied public gathering warnings and took to the streets from early Wednesday afternoon, with pockets of unrest springing up across Causeway Bay and Wan Chai.
Some groups vandalised a Maxim’s cakes store on Percival street as well as a Maxim’s-owned Starbucks branch.
A branch of Maxim’s Cakes in Percival Street has been vandalised. The Maxim’s chain has been targeted by protesters since the daughter of its founder spoke at the UN in support of Beijing and pledging to “give up on Hong Kong’s young people”.#hongkong #NationalSecurityLaw pic.twitter.com/HLs8zLhowg— Hong Kong Free Press HKFP (@HongKongFP) July 1, 2020
Protesters have targeted the caterer due to their links with pro-Beijing individuals.
Throughout the day, protesters chanted “five demands, not one less” and sang the pro-democracy anthem “Glory to Hong Kong.”
Some protesters scattered funeral joss papers around the road to symbolise the “death” of One Country, Two Systems.
At one point, Hong Kong’s Kim Jong-un impersonator “Howard” turned up, wielding a prop nuclear bomb.
As the day wore on, brief skirmishes broke out along Hennessy Road as protesters formed makeshift roadblocks using rubbish and bricks, before dispersing when police arrived to clear the roads.
In a statement, the Hong Kong Journalists Association condemned the police for firing water cannon at a reporter earlier in the afternoon – saying that the officer in the truck did not stop until he noticed another undercover officer next to the targeted reporter.
Arrests under new law
Police said that, as of 10pm, 370 had been arrested for “unauthorised assemblies, disorderly conduct, possession of [an] offensive weapon and other related offences.”
Among the arrested persons, 10 were apprehended for allegedly breaking the national security law.
The force have targeted demonstrators chanting pro-independence slogans or wilding independence flags.
Police said that crowds “blocked roads and occupied multiple lanes on Hennessy Road in Wan Chai. They dismantled banners on the roadside and threw them to the carriageway. Some rioters even blocked the road with railings and rubbish bins and set fire to the barricades, seriously endangering public safety.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the force condemned the stabbing of an officer in Causeway Bay while he unsuccessfully attempted to make an arrest. After the incident, the officer shouted “Can anyone help me?” but no one responded, according to Stand News.
Additional reporting: Tom Grundy.