Police detain 400 and fire teargas as anti-government protests continue into 2020
A huge New Year’s Day march in Hong Kong has ended in mass arrests and street clashes as the anti-government movement – now in its eighth month – continued into 2020.
Police detained about 400 people on charges including illegal assembly and possession of offensive weapons after the rally on Wednesday, which organisers said was attended by more than a million people. It was one of the largest numbers of arrests in a single day since the unrest began.
But the march had begun in a mood of carnival celebration – there were protesters in costumes and families with children and elderly people. Marchers chanted slogans including “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our era”.
Riot police fired teargas rounds in Wan Chai district after protesters threw objects at officers who had arrested several people for allegedly vandalising a bank.
Some protesters retaliated by throwing molotov cocktails at the police, but many in the crowd were caught by surprise as the march was expected to be peaceful and most did not wear protective gear.
Police demanded that the protest organisers, the Civil Human Rights Front, immediately call off the demonstration, but large crowds continued to march and police declared that they were taking part in an illegal assembly.
As night fell, police used water cannon on crowds in Wan Chai and the financial district of Central. Protesters laid bricks across the main thoroughfare in Central in an attempt to impede the police’s advance towards the area.