Renewed clashes broke out in Hong Kong on Saturday night as police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters hurling Molotovs and bricks after tens of thousands rallied peacefully in a nearby park.
Huge crowds had gathered to mark the fifth anniversary of the “Umbrella Movement”, the failed pro-democracy campaign that laid the groundwork for the massive protests currently engulfing the finance hub.
Tens of thousands crammed into a park outside the city’s Parliament, the same site that was the epicentre of the 2014 protests. But smaller crowds took over a main road opposite the building with groups of hardcore activists in masks throwing bricks and petrol bombs at the nearby Central Government Offices.
Police responded with water cannon laced with pepper solution and tear gas volleys, though the crowds soon dispersed at the sight of riot police.
Many of those attending Saturday’s rally defended the use of violence by more hardcore activists
and said Beijing’s refusal to grant democracy — coupled with the ongoing erosion of freedoms — had hardened their resolve.
Earlier on Saturday, Joshua Wong, a prominent student leader who served a short jail sentence for his role in organising the 2014 protests, announced that he would stand in upcoming district council elections.