Clashes between Hong Kong police and protesters turned violent on Sunday night and several subway stations were closed after the stations were vandalized and fires were lit outside the entrance.
MTR stations in Central and Wan Chai on Hong Kong as well as Prince Edward and Mong Kok in Kowloon were closed during the clashes on Sunday night, but reopened on Monday morning.
After a relatively peaceful rally on Sunday afternoon and a march by thousands of protesters, who urged the US Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, the situation turned ugly after a number of radical protesters blocked roads, vandalized MTR stations and riot police chased them down and took them away.
Some protesters also damaged traffic lights in the city’s business district, set fires outside an entrance to the Central MTR station and on Pedder Street. Both fires were quickly put out by firefighters.
Some people wearing facemasks and wearing black outfits used steel poles to damage ticket machines, gates and TV screens inside the Wan Chai MTR station before leaving.
At the same time, there was a heavy police presence at the Causeway Bay MTR Station and officers checked the identity cards of some passersby. At about 7pm, police repeatedly fired tear gas in the Causeway Bay area, including right next to the Sogo department store.
But according to a live broadcast on TV, the protesters had stayed at least 100 meters away from the police. There were no charges at the police by protesters or provocations like shining laser beams at them seen on the TV broadcast.
A video later went viral on social media showing some protesters throwing things at police officers inside Exit D at the Causeway Bay MTR station and then running away. The police then came out from the station and without warning, threw a tear gas grenade on the sidewalk close by which hit a reporter who was there.
At 8:30pm, police fired more tear gas canisters, which left a number of citizens and reporters feeling unwell and those affected asked for help from the volunteer first-aid people at the site.
Many ordinary citizens who were walking past said they did not see any warning flags or hear any verbal warnings. One man was injured by a tear gas canister, while a woman said she had just got off a bus at Hysan Place and was chocked by the tear gas. Many people went online and slammed the police for neglecting people’s safety.
On the Kowloon side, many people carried flowers and placed them outside one of the exits from the Prince Edward MTR station, even though the government had denied an online rumor that a number of people had died there on August 31 when riot police stormed into train carriages and hit passengers and protesters.
Some shone laser beams at the police, who fired several bean bag rounds from an elevated position, hitting the feet of one female first-aid volunteer. A clearance operation then took place with a large number of riot police charging from Mong Kok Police Station in Prince Edward in the direction of Mong Kok.
A stand-off also happened between citizens and police in Whampoa. The Hospital Authority said as of 9pm on Sunday, 10 people aged between 14 and 39 had been hospitalized.
On Monday morning, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet Ngor was given a tour of the Central MTR stations to check on their status. Lam walked around inside the station and was shown the repair work to the ticket machines and gates, Radio Television Hong Kong reported.
She was accompanied by transport chief Frank Chan, CEO Jacob Kim and chairman Rex Au Yeung of MTR Corp. The media was not informed of the tour.
On Saturday night, a group of young people were subdued by police in Tai Po MTR Station.
Videos also surfaced showing a male student pinned to the floor of the station by police and being hit by five or six riot police officers with batons. The student was bleeding severely from his head. He was seen lying on the ground.
The police tried to use their shields to block reporters’ cameras.
At almost the same time, another team of police officers subdued a group of about 10 people and ordered them to squat. A plain-clothes policeman wearing a helmet was seen using his baton and twice hit one young man in the head, then attacked his back twice.
The young man, who was not carrying any weapons, did not resist. Instead, he used his body to protect two girls standing near him from being hurt by the officer.
The video footage did not show that the two schoolboys who were beaten by police were responsible for the damage done in the station earlier or that they had provoked the police officers, the Ming Pao Daily reported.
It was reported that five students from the Tai Po Carmel Pak U Secondary School were arrested, including the two who were being hit by police.
A group of students and alumni from the school formed a human chain outside the school on Monday morning to express their anger over the brutality the police unleashed on the students.
Members of the alumni said the five students were arrested for alleged unlawful assembly and all had been released on bail. The student with the head injury was still hospitalized and was a candidate for this year’s DSE, nowNews reported.