The situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating. Saturday and Sunday’s marches devolved into clashes between anti-government protestors and the police, a predictable outcome for district marches. And on Saturday while clashes broke out in Kwun Tong, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s CEO invited influencers and important establishment people at her mansion to figure out how to build a platform for dialogue. This past weekends headlining moments included the introduction of two Mercedes Benz water canon trucks and the use of live ammunition to warn off attacking protestors on Sunday.
Saturdays march over the suspected implementation of new surveillance equipment installed in smart street lights, ran from Kwun Tung along Tsun Yip street to the Zero Carbon building in Kowloon Bay. It began peacefully. The march proceeded through the shuttered industrial district calmly but combined with empty streets, closed shops, and factories, it created a tense atmosphere. When protestors approached the Ngau Tau Kok police station and a small guard unit of riot police, a stand-off began. After approximately an hour protestors filled Wai Yip street in front of the station and many of the tiers of the Yip On Factory opposite, that over looked the street and station. I over-heard the English police commander discussing the force’s strategy that day with some protestors, claiming that the police would let the march proceed un-impeded as long as the police and the station were not threatened. But, protestors began to throw bricks and hurl insults like "dirty cop” at the police. Hak King (黑警) translated as ‘dirty cop’ is a common term used for police in the city inspired from suspected links between police and triads. Eventually this led to a charge by the police and the use of pepper ball guns on protestors. Hand to hand combat broke out between officers using batons and protestors using bamboo poles and baseball bats. One protestor even delivered a flying kick to one of the cops. A few arrests were made. Police pushed protestors back and took shelter under an overpass. Protestors used the ramp leading to the overpass as a vantage point to rain bricks down on police. At that point police deployed the usual measures and protestors retreated down a side street. Throughout the day, the only shop in the neighborhood to remain open was One Little Room https://goo.gl/maps/eXapPysTojWjbsAD9 . The drinks were ice cold offered on a ‘pay what you may’ basis, the staff were warm, and the room was packed with protestors, medics, and journalists seeking respite from the oppressive heat and haze caused by a typhoon near Taiwan. The facade was decorated with pictures of the protests. I remained at this protest site throughout the day despite a second clash erupting nearby at Telford Plaza. Later protestors re-grouped in Wong Tai Sin, while I picked up my family from a bbq in Central.
If Saturday’s march represented the new normal for violent district protests, Sunday’s rainy march marked a new escalation in violence. The march ran from Kwai Chung sports ground to Tsuen Wan Park peacefully. Upon completion of the march protestors began building barricades on Yeung Uk Rd near CityWalk and an adjacent side street. Residents ran inside and shut their windows. Tear gas was forecasted. Protestors grabbed whatever they could find to construct barricades; bamboo poles, wooden pallets, and plastic road barriers then strung up fishing line across the streets and dish soap on the wet roads to slow any attempted clearance operations conducted by police. I even saw the clever use of banana peels being implemented as a defensive tactic. Protestors used inflatable kiddy rafts, body boards, and salvaged street signs as shields while deploying sling shots, molotov cocktails, and bricks as offensive weapons. Many of the protestors wore body armor used for air soft games, bbq gloves to pick up and toss back tear gas canisters, and tennis rackets used to volley tear gas cans with police. The situation was tense and marked by a determination of the protestors to hold their ground that I had not witnessed before. From approximately 530 pm to 7pm police and protestors clashed. Police fired a continuous barrage of rubber bullets, tear gas, and super sock rounds (https://www.officer.com/tactical/less-lethal/less-lethal-ammunition-projectiles/article/12143124/understanding-less-lethal-options ). I was hit in my side by what I believe was a super sock round under my arm while on my stomach behind a plastic barrier. The barriers have holes in the center. The shot which Im not sure was intentional was like a swift kick that left a yellow flaky material behind on my t-shirt and a heavy bruise and slight rupture of the skin where it made contact. While police continued their barrage, I estimate protestors used between 8 and 12 molotov cocktails. I retreated with protestors and only saw the water canon moving up the street after all protestors had fled the area. At that point there were around 100 journalists and the police standing in the rain staring at the water canon trucks. So I left.
Late in the evening, protestors destroyed a suspected triad owned mahjong parlour. When police responded they were overwhelmed by protestors, officers responded by firing warning shots with their revolvers in the air. The first time live ammunition has been used since the conflict began.