HONG KONG: Riot police fired tear gas at protesters in Tai Wai and Tsim Sha Tsui on Saturday (Aug 10) during another weekend of rallies in Hong Kong, as protesters defied warnings to cancel a march and blocked intersections in several parts of the city.
The fresh demonstrations came after the city's leader pledged she would not grant concessions to the protesters as their movement enters its third month.
Activists gathered on Saturday afternoon in the city's Tai Po district to stage a march despite police denying them a permit, facing off against officers who held up signs warning: "Disperse or we may use force."
But before any clash could break out, the protesters pulled back and began heading to different parts of the city.
One group gathered in the Sha Tin neighbourhood, where last week riot police and protesters fought pitched battles inside a luxury shopping complex.
Another group headed to the Tai Wai district, where they began dismantling railings along the road to set up barricades.
"Today is not about standing off with police or guarding a road. It's more about going to different places and leaving once police get here," said a 17-year-old student protester who gave only his surname, Lok.
"We won't meet eye-to-eye and will actually create more trouble for them," he told AFP.
But the riot police quickly moved in and began firing tear gas, sending demonstrators running to the sides of streets and into a nearby bus terminal.
The gas drifted into the nearby subway station, where a mother and child covered their faces along with other travellers caught in the confrontation.
"A large group of protestors have set barricades at the roundabout on Che Kung Miu Road, paralysing the traffic in Tai Wai," Hong Kong police said on Twitter.
"Having given repeated but futile warnings to the protestors, the police have deployed tear gas and minimum force to disperse them."
The fresh protest marks the 10th weekend that demonstrators have taken to the streets in a movement that began in opposition to a Bill allowing extradition to mainland China but has become a call for greater democratic freedoms.
Protesters had gathered in various locations across the financial hub, despite being denied a permit by the police in at least one location.
In the Tai Po neighbourhood, hundreds of demonstrators, many wearing the movement's signature black and sporting helmets and face masks or respirators, chanted against officers in riot gear standing guard outside the local police station.
Demonstrators also staged a second day of protests in the city's airport and hundreds of parents and children gathered for an all-ages family rally.
At about 7pm, some protesters blocked the entrances of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, causing serious obstruction to the traffic and emergency services, the police said.
The protesters then made their way to Tsim Sha Tsui, where the police said some demonstrators started fires outside the police station.
In response to the situation, the police fired tear gas, they added.
Protesters have committed to continuing their rallies with Hong Kong chief executive Lam insisting she would not meet their demands, which include direct election of the city's leader and an investigation into police violence.
"I don't think we should just sort of make concessions in order to silence the violent protesters," Lam said on Friday.
"What is right for Hong Kong ... is to stop the violence, and to say no to the chaotic situation that Hong Kong has experienced in the last few weeks, so that we can move on."
She warned that the protests were causing economic chaos - an accusation that protesters in Tai Po dismissed.
"The protests were created by Lam, since the beginning," said a woman who gave only her surname, Lo.
"Every time she comes out she only condemns (protests), but offers no solution."