As it happened: Hong Kong police fire tear gas after protesters trash legislature

As it happened: Hong Kong police fire tear gas after protesters trash legislature

Hong Kong police fire tear gas at protesters
Police fire tear gas at protesters near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 2, 2019. (Photo: AFP / Philip Fong)

HONG KONG: Police fired tear gas and retook Hong Kong's government headquarters in the early hours of Tuesday (Jul 2) after hundreds of protesters stormed the parliament building on the anniversary of the city's 1997 return to China on Monday.

The protesters smashed through reinforced windows and steel shutters in unprecedented scenes that plunged the city further into crisis.

Occupying the building for about three hours, they destroyed portraits and defaced walls and furniture with graffiti as anger over a controversial extradition Bill boiled over.

READ: Hong Kong police did not 'set a trap' for protesters during raid, says police commissioner

READ: Hong Kong police retake parliament from anti-government protesters

3.50am: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam condemned the “extremely violent” storming of the city’s parliament during a press conference in the early hours of Tuesday (Jul 2).

She added that Monday’s events were “heartbreaking and shocking” and hoped that society would “return to normal as soon as possible”.

Police chief Stephen Lo said protesters' violent acts "exceeded the bottom line of peaceful expressions of demands" and police officers "had no choice" but to retreat from the legislature, allowing protesters to briefly occupy it.

READ: Hong Kong leader condemns 'extremely violent' storming of parliament

1.07am: Hong Kong police take back control of the LegCo building from the protesters

Protesters had fled the building by the time riot police reached the sprawling government complex after firing tear gas rounds and baton-charging demonstrators in the streets outside.

Officers were able to walk into the ransacked main chamber without meeting any resistance. Only around two dozen reporters were left inside.

12.55am: HK police clearing roads around LegCo

HK protests

12.40am: Police begin to enter LegCo building

After firing volleys of tear gas that sent groups of masked protesters running, police moved on the city's parliament. 

The vast majority of protesters who had stormed it hours earlier had already left and officers encountered little resistance. 

Some have ventured inside the building while other officers use wire cutters and other tools to remove barricades that demonstrators had thrown up around the building.

12.12am: Police fire tear gas at protesters near LegCo

Television footage shows police wearing gas masks and shields, charging demonstrators with their batons drawn, following warnings to the crowds of demonstrators who were camped out near the legislature.

Hong Kong police fire tear gas at protesters Jul 2
Hong Kong police fired tear gas at protesters just after midnight on Jul 2, 2019. (Photo: Reuters) 

Hong Kong protests tear gas
Police fire tear gas at protesters near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Jul 2, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

12.05am: Police arrive to clear the LegCo building

The police arrived by bus and ran into position as about a thousand gathered around the Legislative Council building. Video shows police with shields and batons facing off against protesters.

12.00am: Past midnight, protesters in the Hong Kong parliament appear to be leaving the building. They chant: "Leave together!" as many stream out of the chamber they have occupied for more than two hours.

11.40pm: There has been no immediate response from protesters to police warnings, although some appeared to retreat as the night wore on. Dozens remain inside the legislative chamber.

Here are the events earlier that have led to the current impasse:

11.28pm: A powder that was thrown at police officers earlier was toxic, and the police say they "severely condemn the protesters who used harmful powder to attack police officers".

"Initial inspection by the Fire Services Department confirmed the unknown powder is slightly toxic and prolonged contact will lead to swollen and sensitive skin.  Large amount of water is required to cleanse and decontaminate the substance," police say.
      
Two police officers were taken to hospital after touching the powder, and have been discharged after treatment and decontamination.

11.15pm: HK police have issued another warning that they will clear the LegCo, calling the protesters "rioters".

In a statement on the HK government website, they said that they will "conduct dispersal action" in the vicinity of the Legislative Council Complex

"A group of rioters charged the Legislative Council Complex (Complex) today (July 1) and severely damaged the building and its facilities by mills barriers, iron poles and sundries.  At around 9pm, the rioters vandalized the facilities after dashing into the Complex. 

"Police severely condemn the rioters’ behavior of storming the Complex today. Owing to the violent activities of the rioters, Police warn that dispersal action will soon be taken in the vicinity of the Complex. 

"Police will use appropriate level of force in case their actions are met with obstruction or resistance. Police also urge protesters to leave the vicinity of the Complex immediately."

11.10pm: CNA's Roland Lim reports live from outside LegCo

11.04pm: UK support for Hong Kong and "its freedoms is unwavering", says British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt.

The European Union also called for restraint and dialogue: "In the wake of these latest incidents, it is all the more important to exercise restraint, avoiding escalatory responses, and to engage in dialogue and consultation to find a way forward."

10.46pm: Protesters seem to be staying in the LegCo despite a police warning. Here are scenes from inside the building after it was stormed by the demonstrators.

Police have said it will take "appropriate force" if the protesters do not clear the parliament building.

Protesters hold up a sign after they broke into the parliament chambers
Protesters hold up a sign after they broke into the parliament chambers of the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Jul 1, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Vivek Prakash)

Protesters are seen inside a chamber after they broke into the Legislative Council building during
Protesters are seen inside a chamber after they broke into the Legislative Council building during the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

A person sprays paint over Hong Kong's coats of arms inside a chamber after protesters broke i
A person sprays paint over Hong Kong's coats of arms inside a chamber after protesters broke into the Legislative Council building on Jul 1, 2019 during the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China. (Photo: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

Protesters break into the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 1, 2019
Protesters break into the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 1, 2019, on the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. (Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace)

Protesters break into the Legislative Council building during the anniversary of Hong Kong's h
Protesters break into the Legislative Council building during the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2019 July 1, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

10.35pm: Hong Kong police warn that they will take action if the LegCo is not cleared, in a video posted on Facebook:

10.25pm: The Hong Kong government has responded to the protests. Key points from its statement:

  • In response to the procession today (July 1), a government spokesman noted that the procession was conducted in a peaceful and rational manner. "The Government always respects the public's freedoms and rights of assembly, procession and expression. It also understands that people have different views on Government policies. As a free and pluralistic society, Hong Kong embodies rationalism, inclusiveness, harmony and diversity. The people of Hong Kong are proud of such core values."
  • "The Government clearly understands that members of the public have concerns and doubts about the proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, and has put a stop to the legislative amendment exercise. The bill will lapse after the current term of the Legislative Council ends in July next year," the spokesman said.
  • "Today, some protesters confronted Police from morning until night. They charged Police cordon lines and disrupted public order, causing serious impact on public safety. This evening, some radical protesters stormed the Legislative Council Complex with extreme violence. These protesters seriously jeopardised the safety of police officers and members of the public. Such violent acts are unacceptable to society. The HKSAR Government strongly condemns such acts, and protesters should stop violent acts immediately." 

The full statement here.

10.15pm: Protesters are milling about inside the parliament chamber, destroying portraits and spraying graffiti. 

9.56pm: The British colonial flag is tied to the parliament podium.

Protesters fix a British colonial flag to the parliament podium
Protesters fix a British colonial flag to the parliament podium after they broke into the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Jul 1, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Vivek Prakash)

A British colonial flag is seen on the parliament podium while the emblem of Hong Kong is defaced
A British colonial flag is seen on the parliament podium while the emblem of Hong Kong is defaced, after protesters broke into the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Jul 1, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Vivek Prakash)

9.51pm: Protesters seize parliament chamber and spray walls and furniture with graffiti. The Hong Kong emblem is likewise defaced.

A black and white banner hoisted in the chamber reads in Chinese: "Bow to protect rule of law. Oppose extradition."

Defaced Hong Kong emblem at government headquarters
The Hong Kong emblem is seen defaced after protesters broke into the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Jul 1, 2019, on the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. (Photo: AFP/Vivek Prakash)

9.30pm: Protesters break through glass doors and storm the LegCo building.

Source: Agencies/hm/zl

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