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Hong Kong Police Unleash Tear Gas on Peaceful Pro-Democracy Protesters

Protesters in Hong Kong are using umbrellas to shield themselves from tear gas.  Photo from Twitter @15MBcn_int

Protesters in Hong Kong are using umbrellas to shield themselves from tear gas. Photo from Twitter @15MBcn_int

Protesters demanding genuine democratic elections in Hong Kong were met with batons, tear gas and pepper spray during the second day of demonstrations in the city.  

Following clashes between Hong Kong police and student protesters on September 27, pro-democracy group Occupy Central with Love and Peace kickstarted a massive sit-in at 1:30 a.m. the following day to pressure China's government into withdrawing its requirement that candidates for Hong Kong's top leader get majority support from a largely pro-Beijing nominating committee. 

Riot police began attempting to disperse protesters wielding batons and deploying tear gas and pepper spray beginning at 6 p.m. on September 28. Thousands of protesters were still in streets near the city's financial center confronting riot police by the time this article was published. 

Unverified accounts of police using rubber bullets to shoot at protesters have circulated on social media. Key protest organizers have urged protesters to retreat at around 10 p.m.

China has promised special administrative region Hong Kong, which enjoys certain autonomy from the mainland, a direct vote in the 2017 chief executive election, but pro-democracy activists maintain the nominating committee undermines the people's right to choose their leader. 

Hong Kong police called the sit-in illegal and blocked roads and pathways leading to the government headquarters. More and more people arrived and scattered around Admiralty and Central districts as they attempted to reach the government headquarters by walking pass the Harcourt and Connaught Highway. Eventually the two main roads at the center of the financial district were blocked at around 3 p.m.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying held a press conference at 3:30 p.m. repeating his stand that election reform in Hong Kong has to be restricted by the framework set by Beijing and that the police would take action against illegal protests, in accordance with the law.

Thousands of protesters were surrounding the government headquarters at various spots in Admiralty and Central districts, blocking several roads. Police raised an orange-colored warning sign, stating “disperse or we fire”:

At 6 p.m., the riot police started firing tear gas.

Many Twitter users uploaded photos of the violent crackdown. @imrika1874 posted a photo capturing riot police pointing guns at peaceful protesters, who were raising their hands:

@jeromyu posted this scene:

Journalists and the elderly became the target of the police's pepper spray:

Instead of escaping from the scene, many people dispersed and returned with better equipment, such as raincoats, gas masks and goggles:

In addition, the police instructed the metro company to shut down the Admiralty station in order to deploy more riot police to back up the crackdown. But protesters set up a barricade at the entrance of the subway to block police:

In response to the police violence, the Federation of University Student Union urged for continuous class boycott this week. The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions called for a worker's strike, the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union and Hong Kong Social Workers’ General Union will also launch a teacher's strike.

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