Laser pointers, umbrellas and traffic cones: Everyday items turned 'weapons' in Hong Kong protests
HONG KONG: As peaceful protests in Hong Kong against a planned extradition law grow increasingly violent, demonstrators' tools and tactics have evolved.
The arrest of a student on Tuesday (Aug 6) for possessing laser pointers has angered protesters but Hong Kong police called the pointers "offensive weapons", demonstrating at a press briefing on Wednesday how the laser beams were strong enough to burn through paper.
How did laser pens become "offensive weapons"?
Here's a look at how the use of common items as well as the protesters' tactics have evolved over the course of what China has described as Hong Kong's worst crisis since 1997.
SHIELD AND SHELTER
When the marches first began, protesters lugged large umbrellas to the streets, which they used mainly for shelter from the sun.
Recently, the umbrellas have played a more active role in the melees, sometimes used to cover protesters' faces from being identified, other times to block tear gas.
Wooden boards and container lids have been used as shields as well.
Recently, protesters have also begun donning protective gear similar to the gear worn by riot police, including gas masks and helmets.
Laser pointers, which up until this time have been readily available in shops, have been increasingly used to temporarily blind police.
Police said that three officers have received medical treatment so far after "laser guns" were shone them.
Protesters have also been training them on surveillance cameras to disrupt their ability to capture faces.
The Washington Post reported that police officers have been using strong light beams to identify protesters and confuse them.
PUTTING A LID ON TEAR GAS
Police said that they fired about 800 tear gas rounds on Monday - almost as many as the 1,000 rounds they said they had fired throughout the last two months.
Instead of running from tear gas, protesters used umbrellas and wooden boards as shields as they moved forward to trap the gas canisters and douse them in water.
Protesters were also seen rushing towards the canisters and covering them with traffic cones.
Protesters have been picking up the tear gas and throwing them back at the police, in addition to the empty water bottles that were more commonly used earlier in the crisis.
They have also begun pelting the windows of government buildings with eggs, and slinging bricks and other objects from the street such as paving stones and road signs.
GRAFFITI AND FIRE-STARTING
On top of incorporating everyday items into their defence and offence, demonstrators have also been defacing government buildings, public property and symbols of Chinese rule.
Over the weekend, demonstrators besieged police stations in flash mob-style actions, spray-painting walls and breaking windows. They reportedly also took China's national flag from flag poles and threw them into Victoria Harbour.
This past week, firefighters were seen putting out flames on the street caused by protesters setting fire to large objects.
A strategy that has been considered new to the protesting stage in Hong Kong, where rallies are a familiar concept, is inspired by the "be water" maxim, that is to flow from place to place, building continuous pressure.
Protesters have turned up in pockets of resistance across the territory, springing into action in response to arrests or other developments, coordinated through social media.
The tactic has taxed the city's police force, taking a toll on officers who have fought pitched battles with protesters.