Thousands march to up pressure on Hong Kong government

HONG KONG (AP) — A huge crowd took to the streets of Hong Kong yesterday, some driven back by tear gas, to demand more democracy and an investigation into the use of force to crack down on the six-month-long anti-government demonstrations.

Thousands turned out, from hardened youthful protesters in black outfits and face masks to parents with their children.

Marching near the waterfront on the Kowloon side of Victoria Harbour, they sought to keep the pressure on city leader Carrie Lam after pro-democracy candidates won district council elections a week earlier.

“If we don’t walk out, the government will say it’s just a youth issue, but this is a Hong Kong problem that affects all of us,” Lily Chau said as she pushed her toddler in a stroller.

“If we are scared, the government will continue to trample on our rights.”

Pro-democracy protesters flood a street during a rally in Hong Kong. PHOTO: AP

Many held up a hand to indicate the five demands of the movement and shouted “Five demands, not one less” and “Disband the police force.”

Police in riot gear were out in force for the third march of the day — and the one where violence seemed most likely.

They fired pepper spray and tear gas in some areas. Protesters dug up paving stones and threw them in the street to try to slow the police down.

Hong Kong’s protests have been relatively peaceful during the two weeks around the November 24 election but could turn violent again if the government doesn’t bend to the demands.

Lam has said she’ll accelerate dialogue but has not yielded any ground since the vote. Her government has accepted one demand — withdrawing extradition legislation that could have sent suspects to mainland China for trial — but not the others.

Elaine Wong, an office worker, called the recent election an empty victory.

“We have in actual fact not won any concessions for our demands,” she said. “We must continue to stand out to remind the government of our unhappiness.”

Earlier marches appealed to President Donald Trump for help and demanded that police stop using tear gas.

A group dressed in black and wearing masks carried American flags as it headed to the US Consulate to express gratitude for legislation aimed at protecting human rights in Hong Kong that Trump signed into law last week.