Protesters storm Hong Kong legislature building
Wearing hard hats and masks, they smash intolegislative complex during protests on anniversary of Hong Kong's handover
HONG KONG Protesters ran riot in the legislature building yesterday, on the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's 1997 return to Chinese rule, smashing paintings, doors and walls amid continuing anger over proposed laws that would allow extraditions to China.
Some carried road signs, others corrugated iron sheets and pieces of scaffolding upstairs and downstairs as about a thousand gathered around the Legislative Council building in the heart of the former British colony's financial district.
A small group of mostly students wearing hard hats and masks used a metal trolley, poles and pieces of scaffolding to charge again and again at the compound's reinforced glass, which finally gave way.
The council, Hong Kong's mini-parliament, issued a red alert ordering the protesters to leave, without saying what would happen if they didn't.
Riot police in helmets and carrying batons fired pepper spray as the standoff continued into the sweltering heat of the evening.
Some demonstrators removed steel bars that were reinforcing parts of the council building.
Protesters shouted for and passed on helmets, cling film, masks and other supplies to protect themselves against helmeted riot police carrying batons and firing pepper spray.
Some with cling film wrapped around their arms to protect their skin against tear gas, paralysed parts of Hong Kong island as they occupied roads after blocking them off with metal barriers. Some built barricades with steel pipes facing outwards like a porcupine on the approach roads to keep the police back, scouring nearby streets for railings.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam suspended the extradition bill on June 15 after some of the largest and most violent protests in the city in decades, but stopped short of protesters' demands to scrap it.
"This is the end of Hong Kong. If Carrie Lam continues to be our chief executive, we only see real darkness ahead," said a 60-year-old housewife, who holds a foreign passport. "So we want to fight for the young people."
Tens of thousands marched in temperatures of around 33 deg C from Victoria Park in an annual rally that organisers hoped would get a boost from the anger over the extradition bill.