protesters run as police fire tear gas at them in Wong Tai Sin during a general strike in Hong Kong on August 5, 2019, as simultaneous rallies were held across seven districts. Hong Kong riot police clashed with pro-democracy protesters for a third straight day on August 5 as the city’s leader warned the global financial hub was nearing a “very dangerous situation”, and a rare strike caused transport chaos. PHOTO: Isaac LAWRENCE / AFP
Hong Kong police on Tuesday said 148 people were arrested during running battles with protesters the day before, the largest daily toll since huge pro-democracy protests kicked off two months ago.
On Monday Hong Kong buckled under a general strike followed by the most widespread and sustained clashes so far with tear gas fired at more than a dozen locations against increasingly violent hardcore protesters.
“During the operation yesterday, the police arrested 148 people consisting of 95 males and 53 females, aged between 13 and 63-years-old,” superintendent John Tse told reporters.
Over the last two weeks both police and protesters have resorted to increasingly confrontational tactics, plunging the city into a crisis.
At Tuesday’s press conference police revealed that they fired some 800 tear gas rounds that day — almost as many as the 1,000 rounds they said they had fired throughout the whole of the last two months.
Riot police also discharged 140 rubber bullets and 20 sponge rounds.
The press conference revealed details of how widespread Monday’s battles were against the police — who have become a lightning rod for public anger and are derided by protesters as Beijing’s enforces.
Throughout Monday, police stations came under attack from protesters hurling stones, eggs, bottles and using slingshots that fired bricks. An apartment complex that houses police officers and their families also came under attack.
Tse said a total of 21 police stations were “affected” by Monday’s protests — although it was unclear if all of them were besieged.
Media documented tear gas being fired in at least a dozen districts on Monday.
“Within two short months, the rioters have recklessly destroyed the rule of law. Their acts have seriously hampered public safety,” Tse said.
Protesters have countered that police have long been using excessive violence against their movement — accusations the force denies.
They also say they were forced to adopt more confrontational tactics after peaceful rallies failed to win any concessions.