Fires flared on the streets of Hong Kong Saturday after protesters who defied a ban to march through the city threw Molotov cocktails in a face off with police wielding tear gas and water cannons.
Thousands of people filled the streets, throwing bricks and using laser pointers to disorient cops, who in turn fired off round after round of tear gas in front of the city’s government headquarters. They also used blue-tinted water in their water cannons, used in other countries to make it easier to identify protesters later.
“Telling us not to protest is like telling us not to breathe. I feel it’s my duty to fight for democracy. Maybe we win, maybe we lose, but we fight,” Eric, a 22-year-old student, told Reuters.
China’s People’s Liberation Army also rotated troops throughout the city, in what it said was a routine operation.
While defying a police ban against marching for the 13th straight weekend, protest organizers did call off a march to mark the five year anniversary since Beijing ruled out fully democratic elections in Hong Kong.
Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said Hong Kong citizens would keep fighting for their rights and freedoms despite the arrests of several prominent activists and lawmakers in the past two days, including activist Joshua Wong.
The latest protests have no leaders. Marching with the slogan “be like water,” meaning be flexible, Saturday’s protestors moved randomly through the streets using hand signals to communicate and chanting “stand with Hong Kong” and “fight for freedom.”
The protests were sparked by a now-shelved extradition bill. Protesters are demanding its full withdrawal, democratic elections and an investigation into alleged police brutality in what have been pitched battles with hard-line demonstrators.