Hong Kong saw one of its most violent days on Monday as police fired a live round from close range at a protester and a man was set on fire in an act classified as attempted murder. Clashes raged on for more than 16 hours.
The shooting victim, a 21-year-old vocational student surnamed Chow, had a kidney and part of his liver removed to retrieve the bullet and was reportedly in critical condition, while 57-year-old construction worker Leung Chi-cheung suffered from second-degree burns to his chest and arms, as well as head trauma
During the day, police fired tear gas in at least 12 locations, from as far as east as Sai Wan Ho on Hong Kong Island, all the way north to Tai Po in the New Territories and Tsuen Wan and Tuen Mun to the west.
Riot police hold the bridge at the Cross Harbour Terminus linking to Hung Hom MTR Station and the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong.
Photo: SCMP / Roy Issa
At lunch time, the Central business district was blanketed by a grey veil of tear gas as police clashed with black-clad protesters who staged a rally, shouting slogans such as “Five demands, not one less” and “Liberate Hong Kong; Revolution of our times”.
Office workers took cover in buildings as others joined forces with protesters to lash out at the police for alleged brutality.
On at least three tertiary campuses, at Hong Kong, Chinese and Polytechnic universities, stand-offs led to the firings of rounds of tear gas early in the morning as protesters corralled dustbins, boxes and water barriers to mount as barricades or set on fire, as they clustered under umbrellas to throw bricks they had dug up at police firing tear gas at them.
At PolyU, protesters hauled furniture and bicycles out onto the streets and threw them off footbridges, daubing graffiti on walls and building facades.
On Monday, all 11 universities cancelled classes, with 10 remaining closed on Tuesday to repair major damage to facilities.
Live updates from the citywide strike on 11 November
In Sha Tin, dozens of office workers walked to the MTR station after their minibus was stopped on the road. Elsewhere, protesters stopped double-decker buses and spray-painted the windscreens to prevent the drivers from moving the vehicles.
The first signs of trouble had emerged at 6am, when railway staff found objects such as bikes, wooden ladders and poles hurled onto the rail tracks of the East Rail Line.
An hour later, a petrol bomb was thrown at Tung Chung station. Then a fire was lit inside a train in Kwai Fong station. At Heng On station, another blaze was set outside.
The actions crippled MTR lines in the morning, forcing services to be suspended at 18 stations, before another six closed in the evening.
Protesters appeared to retreat for a while. But as video clips of the shooting in Sai Wan Ho went viral, many appeared on the streets again.
In that incident, traffic policemen arrived at an intersection to clear protesters who had thrown polystyrene boxes onto the streets and building barricades.
In tackling the protesters, a station sergeant surnamed Kwan grabbed one of them but was soon surrounded by others.
A video grab shows a police officer (left) shooting a protester in Hong Kong on Monday.
“The officer pulled out his service revolver as a warning. However, the protester did not stop attempting to snatch the revolver,” Chief Superintendent John Tse Chun-chung told a police briefing.
“At that time, the officer believed that it was very likely that the revolver would be snatched and the consequences would be disastrous. Death and casualties would have resulted,” he added.
The student, Chow, was shot in the abdomen and later, despite his wound, tried to flee as the ambulance arrived but riot police officers caught him again.
The officer fired three shots, including one that hit Chow.
Angry bystanders began demanding explanations from the police but were soon pepper-sprayed. A video showed at least one middle-aged man was clapping his approval at the shooting.
Within hours, the officer who shot the protester was doxxed online, with all his personal and family details leaked and death threats made against his children.
In Ma On Shan at about lunchtime, construction worker Leung chased after protesters who had been throwing objects onto the road.
He was then assaulted and suffered head injuries. He shouted to the group, “You are not Chinese”, to which the protesters responded by yelling “We are Hongkongers”.
Leung advanced back towards the group and a protester poured flammable liquid on him before he was set on fire.
Police have classified the case as attempted murder but no one was arrested. People online began sharing details of the alleged perpetrator, a computer-science graduate.
At a press conference at her office in the evening, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Yuet-ngor described the attack on Leung as a “totally inhumane act that nobody should condone”.
Urging everyone to condemn the destructive behaviour of protesters, whom she called the “enemy of the people”, Lam vowed they “would never win”, despite their continuing acts of violence over the past five months.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (centre) along with Secretary for Security, John Lee Ka-chiu (left) and Secretary for Transport and Housing, Frank Chan Fan (right) hold a press conference at the Government Central Offices in Tamar.
Photo: SCMP / May Tse
“If there is still any wishful thinking that by escalating violence the Hong Kong SAR government will yield to pressure to satisfy the so-called political demands, I’m making this statement clear and loud here: that will not happen,” she said.
“Violence is not going to give us any solution to the problems that Hong Kong is facing. Our joint priority now as a city is to end the violence and to return Hong Kong to normal as soon as possible.”
The Hospital Authority reported that, as of 10pm on Monday (9am on Sunday, US Eastern Time), 99 people had been sent to hospital with protest-related injuries. Two were in critical condition, four serious, 46 stable, seven unclear and 40 had been discharged.
Police said 266 people, between the ages of 11 and 74, had been arrested for protest-related offences since last November 4.
Protesters pledged to repeat their actions on Tuesday.