Wednesday saw a substantial uptick in violence at the massive protest consuming the streets of Hong Kong over an extradition bill that would allow Hong Kong citizens to be taken to the Chinese mainland for criminal trial.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that protest over the extradition legislation, which is now one of the largest political demonstrations China has seen since the Tiananmen Square protest in 1989, has become a “blatant, organized riot,” in a statement made Thursday morning local time, The Associated Press reported.
A group called the Civil Human Rights Front organized the protest against the extradition bill that has been building since Sunday, involving more than a million protesters, mostly young people wearing black clothes, according to Reuters. Opponents of the extradition legislation have expressed concerns that it will be used as a tool by China’s Communist Party to crack down of dissident behavior and restrict civil rights in Hong Kong, according to The New York Times.
Police reportedly fired beanbag projectiles and rubber bullets at protesters who were reportedly throwing rocks and metal barricades at police Wednesday. The altercations resulted in 72 individuals being taken to the hospital. The Hong Kong Hospital Authority said of the 72 that were hospitalized, 50 were male and 22 were female, and at least two were in serious condition, according to the AP. (RELATED: China Rages At Accusation That It Is ‘At War With Faith’)
There are also reports of police firing tear gas into crowds as well as using high pressure water hoses and pepper spray to fend off protesters, the AP reported.
— Austin Ramzy (@austinramzy) June 9, 2019
Amnesty International’s Hong Kong director Man-Kei Tam criticized the Hong Kong police’s use of tear gas, saying that it should not be used because it is “notoriously inaccurate and indiscriminate, and can result in serious injury and even death.” Amnesty International commented that police violence was making matters worse and was “fueling tensions and is likely to contribute to worsening violence, rather than end it,” according to the AP.
Police with riot shields clashed with protesters attempting to storm Hong Kong’s government headquarters Wednesday afternoon local time, a commotion that delayed a legislative session where lawmakers were actively debating over the extradition bill.