Today is the 22nd anniversary of the day that Britain handed sovereignty of Hong Kong over to China. That anniversary added a new spark to the ongoing protests over a bill which would allow mainland China to extradite people to the mainland for any perceived crime. That bill was suspended last month in the wake of massive street protests but the suspension was a temporary measure and protests to have it permanently withdrawn have continued. Here’s an aerial shot of the protests today:
The main streets of Hong Kong have been shut down for a planned pro-democracy march, marking the anniversary of the former colony's handover from Britain to China.
— CNN (@CNN) July 1, 2019
Some of the protesters broke through a window into the main government building:
Once inside, they made their way to the main legislative floor where they spray painted the walls and hung up the British colonial flag:
Protesters tie British colonial flag to podium in Hong Kong's legislature and spray graffiti on walls, after smashing their way into main government building https://t.co/QdTmAPgpGB pic.twitter.com/CAlI2Skvtg
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) July 1, 2019
The protesters disagreed about what to do next. Some wanted to remain in the building overnight while others argued it was better to leave before police stormed the building. From the BBC:
One pro-democracy legislator told the BBC that young protesters initially said they would stay all night.
“They’re saying that they would beat the police by sheer numbers, and that sounds very scary to me,” she said.
“I was a journalist and I did cover the Tiananmen bloodbath 30 years ago, and that’s exactly what those students said back then in the Chinese capital.”
Her colleague, legislator Fernando Cheung, had been inside with those occupying the building, and said he was glad they all left safely without encountering police.
“If they resisted… I’m afraid there would be bloodshed, or I think the police wouldn’t be hesitant to use force to disperse them,” he said.
People did clear out just as police started using tear gas outside:
Police looking over the wreckage:
I sympathize with any efforts to oppose the oppressive communist government of China, and I hope what happened today doesn’t become an excuse for the mainland to crack down on protests.