Yuen Long, a town in Hong Kong's Northern New Territories, was the scene of unprecedented violence at the MTR train station last Sunday. A mob wearing white shirts ambushed civillians and protesters, returning from the demonstration in the city, using bamboo and metal rods. Today, protesters have decided to reclaim the town after police took the rare step of rejecting the application for a march. Organisers vowed to press on, regardless.
Honkongers are protesting against an extradition bill which, if passed, could see suspects sent to the mainland to stand trial there. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said the bill is "dead" but has declined to use the word "withdrawn". Meanwhile, the protest demands have morphed into more general calls for universal suffrage, an independent inquiry into police behaviour and amnesty for protesters arrested and dropping the classification of the first protest as a "riot".
Around 2pm a man was arrested after he allegedly slashed another on a footbridge, next to a Lennon Wall. The young man was seen bleeding from the torso. Eyewitnesses said he threw the blade from the footbridge.
Protesters gathered at the MTR station, while shopkeepers shut up their businesses as if a typhoon had been predicted.
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MTR has announced Light Rail services will be diverted.
"Light Rail service diversion:
Route 610, Route 614 and Route 615 both directions are diverted and will not stop between Tong Fong Tsuen and Yuen Long stops;
Route 761P both directions is diverted and will not stop between Hang Mei Tsuen and Yuen Long stops.
MTR staff asked passengers to consider other options of transport.
We have local media reports of riot police moving towards the town.
The main road in Yuen Long, Castle Peak Road, has been occupied by protesters
South China Morning Post reports that Lingnan University president Leonard Cheng has joined students on the march, after he raised fears about young people attending. University President Zheng Guohan and Vice-Chancellor Mo Jiaho were at the railway station to see off their students.
Protesters have begun arriving at Nam Pin Wai village, where the masked thugs retreated to after their attack last Saturday. "Gangsters, come out and put up a fight," some shouted. The door of the ancestral hall and other facilities were closed.
Meanwhile, CNN's Kristie Lou Stour was busy talking to teens:
Masked middle school students (aged 14 to 16) in #YuenLong:— Kristie Lu Stout (@klustout) July 27, 2019
“We want to fight for the freedom of Hong Kong.”
“We did not like the action of police. The police should protect citizens but they didn’t.” #HongKongProtests @joshelleyCNN pic.twitter.com/MoWJiGkNzY
Protesters have flooded the streets and rail line of Yuen long in peaceful protest. But at Nam Pin Wai things are extremely tense. This is the village where masked attackers on Sunday night were seen retreating. Prosters have gathered nearby calling on them to come out and fight. Police have tried to set up a courdon, with white-shirted men standing behind them.
Protesters hung banners on the walls outside the police station scolding them for what they believe is collusion with the local gangsters.
In Long Yip Street, masked protesters began to dismantel metal barriers.
Singer Denise Ho lent some star power to the day by signing protesters' hard hats.
Peacemakers help protesters to spread out along Long Wip Street, away from the entrance to Nam Pin Wai.
More police are exiting the police station.
Police armed with guns are photographed at Sai Pin Wai.
[1655 HKT] Red flag at Nam Pin Wai pic.twitter.com/J52dkA0e3Y— antiELAB (@anti_elab) July 27, 2019
At Kau Yuk Road, police are asking protesters to leave, telling them they are part of an unlawful assembly. There are long queus of protesters getting their single-journy tickets in the MTR station.
A police vehicle is traped on Yuen Long On Road. Protesters used a railing to ensare its wheel. They sprayed it with graffiti and smashed one of its windows. Other protesters called on people to make way for the vehicle.
The black flag was raised by police at 5:10pm near Nam Pin Wai.
Teargas was used at Tai Cheung Street and Tung Tai Street.
Demosisto leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung takes to twitter to tell how police stopped the party vehicle, declared it unroadworthy and towed it away. They were given a ticket.
We’re at the #YuenLong protest today. Earlier, our @demosisto minivan was stopped outside YOHO Mall by traffic cops who said it posed a ‘threat to traffic safety’. I argued and said it passed inspection last month, but they swiftly gave us a ticket and TOWED AWAY THE VEHICLE. pic.twitter.com/eAseKGeKF2— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 (@joshuawongcf) July 27, 2019
With teargas, pepper spray and paintball guns, police waded into a peaceful protest, and let the public know that they should leave the scene.
Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu hit out at police for firing tear gas near to elderly centres
Police continually warn people to leave. But when lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin asks police how protesters can leave, he gets no answer, only more orders.
Confusion over transport links, with some people saying MTR is halted. But MTR only mention disruption to light rail service.
Owing to the situation on On Lok Road, where protesters have a handful of police surrounded, and protesters surrounded and vandalised a police van on On Lok Road, police announce they will begin clearance operations from east to west and tell protesters to leave via Yuen Long MTR.
Police van on On Lok Road surrounded by protesters. A few windows smashed and painted with graffiti pic.twitter.com/JfuXhoVgD1— Austin Ramzy (@austinramzy) July 27, 2019
Skirmishes between protesters and police continue. Police released a statement saying they were appealing to members of the public to leave in an easterly direction towards Yuen Long MTR, and to avoid travelling to Yuen Long. Police said protests had turned violent, with protesters hurling bricks and other hard objects and charging police lines.
Protesters seem to be encouraging each other to leave at 7.30.
Rumours spread on Telegram that the gangsters are on their way.
Protesters pointed out to journalists that a black car parked beneath an exit at Yuen Long MTR contained canes like those used to beat protesters last Sunday. After the photos were taken, protesters vandalised the car. They discovered what looked like a mainland uniformed services hat.
By 8:30pm most protesters had left and the majority of those left behind were making their way to MTR stations. Press were told to move out of the way as police continued to clear protesters.
A few hard-core protesters remain outside Sai Pin Wai village.