When China announced its intention of bypassing the Legislative Council of Hong Kong (its mini-parliament) to impose a national security law, everybody understood HK was being in the line of fire. It so happened, that it was not only the city that was in the line of fire over the week-end, but also some of its elected officials as riot police sought to quell the unrest in the city on Sunday 24 May 2020.

Joshua Wong
Activist Joshua Wong is encouraged by other protesters on 24 May.

A peaceful start

As quite often with the protests in Hong Kong, it started with a group of peaceful protesters chanting slogans and being confronted with the famous blue flag (announcing an unlawful assembly).

Riot police raise blue flag in Causeway bay
Riot police raise blue flag in Causeway Bay

Protesters started singing “Glory to Hong Kong” while others flew a “Hong Kong Independence” blue flag.

Some lone protesters tried to convince others to join them on the road, but failed and got arrested instead.

Helmet man gets arrested

Riot police pushed back

However, as the people continued to march and to collect on Causeway Bay, eventually, the crowd grew so large that police pulled back. While pulling back, they were chased and some objects (water bottles and shrubs) were thrown at them (defintely nothing life-threatening).

Riot police retreat as projectiles are thrown
Riot police retreat as projectiles are thrown on them.

I think they were more scared of being isolated in the middle of a mob).

An old lady tries to interpose between riot police and protesters
An old lady tries to interpose between riot police and protesters
Protesters push back riot police

As they pushed back the crowd, a second platoon of riot police threw a hand grenade of tear gas.

In the confusion that ensued, their colleagues that were being pursued got also profusely gassed as they didn’t even have their gas masks on. I was wearing my ballistic goggles and a face mask, so I didn’t suffer as much of the inconvenience and was able to continue filming.

In the line of fire

Once the platoon managed to don their gas masks, they resumed the pursuit of the protesters, but a group of district councilors managed to form a human chain in front of them.

This was not met kindly and in the push and shove that took place, one policeman pushed back a district councilor with his finger on the trigger of the riot gun.

A policeman threatens a district councilor with a finger on trigger
A policeman threatens a district councilor with his finger on the trigger of the riot gun.

In the push and shove that ensued, the same policeman pressed his rifle against the chest of the politician (Mr. Lee Kwok Kuen).

A policeman pushes his rifle against the chest of a district councilor
A policeman pushes his rifle against the best of a district councilor (screen cap from video).

As the councilor moved to push back the canon from his chest, yet another shot of pepper spray hit the councilors right in the eyes.

District councilors hit by pepper spray
District Councilors hit by pepper spray

You can also watch the whole video of the incident (from which some screen caps are presented above).

Pepper spray on district councilors

Eventually, as can be seen in the video, the councilors were allowed to move to the side to be treated.

Skirmishes

As the afternoon wore on, the skirmishes concentrated near a flyover under which the protesters had grouped. Between water canon and pepper spray, most incidents happenned there.

A protester angrily yells at a tram driver
A protester angrily yells at a tram driver who honked to get free passage.

In one of those incidents, riot police could be observed placing their knee on the neck of a subdued protester to cuff him (a similar incident which killed George Floyd in the USA).

Protester arrested in Causeway Bay

As things continued, riot police decided to shoot tear gas to clear protesters in direction of Wanchai. One of their shots landed too short and intoxicated several local bystanders.

Police shoot tear gas on protesters.

The rest of the afternoon was merely a succession of confrontations around the flyover, with some tense scenes between protesters, journalists and riot police.

Riot police face off with journalists
Riot police face off with journalists under the flyover

At one point a small emotional crisis played out between one policeman and a journalist.

Confrontation between riot police and journalists

A few charges later, the things finally calmed down, but journalists thought this only set the stage for the major confrontation on 27 May, date of the second reading of the national anthem bill… But this was never to be.

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