(Bloomberg) — Violence escalated in Hong Kong as protesters set fires and vandalized train stations and banks, pushing back against government efforts to quell demonstrations when it invoked a colonial-era emergency law.
Some rail services were suspended and businesses shuttered early on Sunday as demonstrators lobbed petrol bombs and bricks, spray-painted retail outlets and public property and destroyed banking facilities across the city. Video footage showed a bloodied man laying on a road after he was dragged out of the taxi he was driving and stomped on by a group of protesters after the vehicle hit some of them.
The protests followed warnings from opposition leaders that Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s decision to invoke a colonial-era emergency law to impose a ban on protesters wearing face masks would only further anger critics. A 14-year-old boy was shot and injured Friday night, the second shooting of the week, during a scuffle between a plain-clothes police officer and demonstrators who had attacked his car.
Here’s the latest (all times local):
Rail service halted (8:36 p.m.)
MTR Corp., operator of the city’s rail network, suspended the service of all trains except the line to the airport, saying on its website that “it was no longer in a position to provide safe and reliable service to passengers.”
PLA barracks (7:45 p.m.)
Protesters gathered outside the People’s Liberation Army barracks in Kowloon Tong, the South China Morning Post reported. Uniformed men inside the compound watched the demonstrators from a rooftop, flashing torchlights at them and raising a yellow flag to warn them to leave, according to the report.
The office of lawmakers Priscilla Leung and Lo Wai-kwok in Cheung Sha Wan was attacked and a nearby restaurant vandalized and damaged, the South China Morning Post reported.
Protesters arrested (7 p.m.)
Video footage showed police arresting a group of protesters. There had been little information on how authorities would implement the ban on face masks at protests, and what criteria they would apply in deciding on arrests of those who used them. The city’s Executive Council approved the ban on face coverings at protests and public assemblies.
Tear gas fired (5 p.m.)
Police deployed multiple rounds of tear gas to disperse protesters outside Swire Properties’ Pacific Place shopping mall and office complex in Admiralty, but demonstrators re-gathered and remained in the area blocking one of the main roads leading into the Central business district.
Tear gas was also fired by officers in Wan Chai where demonstrators had gathered in a park, while a police water cannon left Central heading in the direction of Admiralty.
In the nearby Legislative Council building, a “red alert” was issued at 4:25 p.m. local time, calling on all personnel to leave the building immediately because of safety concerns.
Thousands take to streets (2:30 p.m.)
In Tsim Sha Tsui, hundreds of people, wearing masks and dressed in black, occupied the normally busy Salisbury Road before marching toward the Mong Kok district.
One of the demonstrators, a 40-year-old real estate worker who gave his name as Danny, said: “We want to explain to the government that wearing a mask is our right and we want to keep doing it this way.”
He said he believed the emergency law could be broadened to enforce harsher measures, so we want our opinions heard, to make it clear that “this emergency law is not correct; it’s an outdated law.”
A protester in Causeway Bay, I.C. Chan, 25, who works in the medical industry, said it didn’t matter that Sunday’s march was unauthorized because the police decision to approve or not was made by an “unauthorized organization.”
“I have no idea how it’s going to end but I’m doing whatever I can,” he said. Chan said he doesn’t believe destruction of property is acceptable in a functioning society but felt that Hong Kong wasn’t functioning. “People can’t contain their anger as there’s no other way to vent.”
Protesters ignore rain, ban (2 p.m.)
Hundreds of protesters blocked roads in Causeway Bay and across the harbor in Tsim Sha Tsui as people started gathering for rallies. The demonstrators left Causeway Bay and marched toward Central, while a smaller group in Tsim Sha Tsui disrupted traffic at a busy intersection near the popular waterfront area.
Court rejects injunction (1:30 p.m.)
The High Court denied an application for an interim injunction by all 24 pro-democracylawmakers on the ban of wearing of face masks during protests, Radio Television Hong Kongreported. The court adjourned a hearing on the lawmakers’ application for a judicial review of the government measure to later this month, it said.
Court challenge (10 a.m.)
All 24 of Hong Kong’s pan-democratic lawmakers filed an application in the High Court for an interim injunction to suspend the ban on wearing masks during protests, RTHK reported. The submission was scheduled to be heard Sunday morning.
The lawmakers have also lodged a judicial review to challenge the ban, according to the report.
Legal sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok said before the hearing that the application involved a fight between the rule of law and authoritarianism, and was “one of the most important constitutional cases in the history of Hong Kong.”
Train services resume (7 a.m.)
MTR said it plans to resume part of its service Sunday. Some stations, including Admiralty, Mong Kok, and Causeway Bay, will remain closed as staff needed time to repair damaged facilities. Train services at other stops will end earlier at 9 p.m. to allow time for repairs. The express train connecting the city center to the airport will also run normally through 1 p.m., when the service will be limited to just the airport and the Hong Kong station, without stopping at other sites following a government request, it said.
More than 10% of ATMs down (11:15 p.m.)
More than a 10th of the city’s 3,300 ATMs were damaged and couldn’t function normally, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said. Among those that functioned normally, 5% couldn’t provide withdrawal services, it added. Banks are coordinating with delivery service providers over the supply of banknotes.
Protester who was shot is arrested (9:30 p.m.)
The 14-year-old boy who was shot in the leg after a scuffle with an off-duty police officer was arrested, police said in a statement. The boy was operated on at a hospital and was in stable condition, the South China Morning Post reported.
Police confront protesters (8:30 p.m.)
Police said they had moved in to disperse protesters in the Wong Tai Sin and Yuen Long districts who were blocking roads and paralyzing traffic. The police said in a statement that they were “deploying appropriate” force in the area.
HKMA dismisses speculation (6:20 p.m.)
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the city’s de facto central bank, dismissed speculation in social media on Saturday, which it described as a “malicious attempt to cause panic among the public.”
The city has a “robust and sound” banking system with ample liquidity, the HKMA said in a statement. It’s well positioned to withstand any market volatilities and has sufficient supply of banknotes to meet the needs of the public, it said.
Police detain two (5:15 p.m.)
Police detained two people with face masks in a square in Central, RTHK reported. At least one other person was arrested after a peaceful procession by demonstrators. Riot police started appearing on the streets after marchers split up when they reached Chater Garden, their destination in Central. Some linked up in a human chain while others sang and chanted slogans in parks and squares.
Bank group apologizes (5 p.m.)
The Hong Kong Association of Banks said some banks had shut branches and suspended services to repair damage, and to ensure the safety of customers and staff.
The association expressed regret over the situation and apologized for the inconvenience. It said in a statement that it condemns the violent acts across the city and and hopes social order will be restored quickly “following the introduction of the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation.”
Train services suspended (3:15 p.m.)
The city’s train services will be suspended for the rest of Saturday, with the exception of the Airport Express, according to operator MTR. Train services had been halted Friday night. This was the first time the service has been shut down since 2007, when the company merged with Kowloon–Canton Railway Corporation, MTR said.
Masked marchers (2 p.m)
Hundreds of Hong Kong protesters defied the ban on masks as they marched from Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, to Central. Fewer people took part in the procession than recent demonstrations after one of the most violent weeks since the unrest began in June.
‘Everyone is scared’: Lam (1 p.m.)
Hong Kong leader Lam said “everyone is worried and scared” after Friday’s clashes, which was “a very dark day.” The chief executive said in a recorded televised address that the city was experiencing unprecedented violence and that she cannot allow a small minority to destroy people’s freedoms.
The government will “curb the violence with the greatest determination,” she said, calling on people to support it and to condemn the violence.
Banks, stores shut (7 a.m.)
The ParknShop supermarket and Watsons retail chains, as well as some of China’s biggest state-owned lenders shut almost all their locations for the day. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and China Construction Bank Corp. closed their branches in Hong Kong, while Bank of China (Hong Kong) Ltd. said it would only keep one open. Even 7-Eleven, known to be open around the clock, announced on its website that all stores will close at 5 p.m., as did the Wellcome supermarket chain.
One person shot (2:45 a.m.)
A plain-clothes policeman fired a shot that injured a person at about 9 p.m. on Friday after the officer was attacked and beaten by protesters, Yolanda Yu, a police senior superintendent, said a press conference early Saturday morning. The incident is being investigated, she said, defending the right of the officer to discharge his weapon as his life “was threatened.”
The police haven’t been in contact with the injured person, who’s undergoing surgery at a local hospital. While she didn’t link the case to the earlier injury sustained by a 14-year-old, Yu said she believes it’s related to the open-fire incident in the Yuen Long district.
Injured 14-year-old, officer assaulted: (Saturday 12:18 a.m.)
A 14-year-old who was sent to hospital is in a serious condition after this evening’s protests, according to a spokesman for Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority. The spokesman couldn’t specify how the patient was injured.
At around 9 p.m., a large group of “rioters” attacked a plainclothes police officer, according to a government statement. The officer was assaulted after he fell to the ground, firing his gun to warn off his assailants. Another subsequently hurled a petrol bomb at him, setting his body briefly on fire. The officer dropped his gun while escaping and a second petrol bomb was thrown at him as he called for back up, according to the statement.
Court denies interim injunction: (11:38 p.m.)
After listening to arguments for two hours, a court decided against granting a temporary suspension of the anti-mask law after pro-democracy activists brought a late Friday injunction application. The ban will come into effect at midnight.