Hong Kong Protests Heat Up As Demonstrators Defy Face Mask Ban On Halloween

REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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Hong Kong protesters flouted the Chinese government’s ban on masks Thursday for Halloween, ramping up their pro-democracy demonstrations against the communist regime.

Chinese authorities first banned masks weeks ago in the now five-months long string of protests that has kept Hong Kong in international headlines. The protesters Thursday covered their faces, used umbrellas to defend against tear gas grenades, and shouted slogans at police over make-shift barricades, Reuters reported.

As protesters moved forward into the Lan Kwai Fong bar district, Halloween partiers became trapped with protesters and started lobbing their own criticisms at police. (RELATED: Protesters Force Hong Kong Airport To Cancel Most Flights)

“Stop blocking the road. Fuck you,” they shouted, according to Reuters. “We want to drink. Can’t you let people have some fun for once?”

“Chinese bullies!” another said “This is overkill. It’s Halloween!”

HONG KONG, CHINA – OCTOBER18: Protesters wear a mask of Chinese President Xi Jinping during a protest on October 18, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong stretched into its fifth month after the Chinese territory’s government invoked emergency powers earlier this month to introduce an anti-mask law. (Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)

Hong Kong’s economy fell into recession for the first time in a decade in the third quarter of 2019, partly due to the drop in tourism from mainland China, according to the New York Times. (RELATED: Global Times Editor-In-Chief Says Hong Kong Protesters Are ‘Self-Destructive’)

The protests have been intermittently violent since their outset, with police sometimes resorting to using live rounds against demonstrators. Protesters have also been seen taking equipment from police and using it against them.

The unrest originally arose from a now-withdrawn extradition bill in Hong Kong that would’ve allowed China to take custody of residents. Hong Kong has traditionally been an independent city with a Western democratic government, but China has been steadily encroaching on its autonomy.