HONG KONG — Hong Kong protesters occupied the streets around government offices and police headquarters on Friday to show officials they were not backing down despite a series of concessions by Beijing-backed officials.
Their outrage over a proposed extradition bill has now extended to the police’s heavy-handed response to demonstrations that has seen dozens of people injured.
“We are demanding the police chief to come down and face the people and to offer his and the police apology,” said Alvin Yeung, leader of the pro-democracy liberal Civic Party, who was among a crowd outside of the police headquarters on Friday.
Demonstrations kicked-off nearly two weeks ago in opposition of a proposed extradition bill that protesters said would threaten the former British colony’s semi-autonomous rule. Organizers say as many as 2 million people have taken to the streets.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced last weekend she would back down on the bill indefinitely, but not abandon it, saying the proposal was necessary to close a loophole in the legal system to allow for wanted suspects to face trial in other jurisdictions including China, Macau and Taiwan. Lam made a former apology to protesters on Sunday, but stopped short of offering her resignation which was among the protester’s demands.
The response has not satisfied protesters, who resumed peaceful marches, sit-ins and erected barricades across major streets on Friday. Government offices were closed “due to security conditions” and hearings at the territory’s Legislative Council — the elected legal and administrative governing body of the territory — were suspended.
“Shame on you,” chanted Joshua Wong, a well-known democracy activist outside the police headquarters. Other demonstrators, many of whom were students, obscured their features with face masks to guard their identities from potential retribution from government or school authorities.
The demonstrators are not alone in condemning police. Amnesty International has been critical of police, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets, for having a heavy-handed approach that is worsening tensions.
Veta Chan reported from Hong Kong, Linda Givetash from London.
Linda Givetash is a reporter based in London. She previously worked for The Canadian Press in Vancouver and Nation Media in Uganda.
Associated Press contributed.