Asia Police arrest hundreds following 'chaotic' New Year's Day protest in Hong Kong

Police arrest hundreds following ‘chaotic’ New Year’s Day protest in Hong Kong

Trouble started brewing when radical protesters vandalized five HSBC branches in Wan Chai and a Starbucks in Tin Hau. The walls were spray painted and the windows were smashed

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Hong Kong—What started as a peaceful pro-democracy demonstration ended in chaos as police fired water canons, pepper spray, and tear gas and arrested hundreds of protesters and observers.

The initially peaceful demonstration was organised by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) and reportedly had a turnout of 1.03 million people.

The march was organised at Hong Kong’s central business district at 3pm on Wednesday (Jan 1).

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters continue to call for investigations on police brutality and an amnesty for individuals who have been arrested.

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However, trouble started brewing when radical protesters vandalized five HSBC branches in Wan Chai and a Starbucks in Tin Hau. The walls were spray painted and the windows were smashed. Protesters also sprayed graffiti on the lions and set them ablaze.

HSBC was accused of being complicit in government movements against pro-democracy activists who were trying to raise money to support the Spark Alliance, an opposition campaign.

HSBC vehemently denied the accusations.

Read: Protests in Hong Kong shopping districts despite the holiday season

Police said they used tear gas to dispose the protesters because they were concerned about the safety of their colleagues. They also pre-approved the demonstration, but then ordered the protesters to disband by 5:30 pm.

“We have done a lot to work with the organisers… but a small minority of rioters used violence to obstruct the peaceful march,” Hong Kong Senior Superintendent Ng Lok-Chun said as quoted in a report by the Hong Kong Free Press.

Police then conducted a mass arrest, seizing around 400 protesters including mere observers from the Civil Rights Observer group. Police also reportedly dispersed journalists who were covering the demonstrations and subsequent arrests.

Reuters reported that two branches of HSBC and seven ATM outlets remained closed on the first workday of the year following the damage to property. /TISG

Survey: Thousands of job cuts, company closures in Hong Kong in upcoming months

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