Protesters Enter Immigration Tower in Wan Chai: Hong Kong Update

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-20/hong-kong-government-closes-headquarters-as-protesters-gather

Hong Kong protesters, including student groups, resumed demonstrations in the city center Friday to demand Chief Executive Carrie Lam step down.

Historic protests in the past few weeks, including several that turned violent, prompted Lam to suspend the bill indefinitely and apologize to the city’s 7.5 million people. The episode has embarrassed the central government in Beijing, which has continued to back Lam’s administration.

Here’s the latest (all times local):

Immigration Tower (3:30 p.m.)

relates to Protesters Enter Immigration Tower in Wan Chai: Hong Kong Update

Protesters inside the Immigration Tower.

Photographer: Eduardo Leal/Bloomberg

Protesters entered and packed the first two floors of the city’s Immigration Tower in Wan Chai, near the police headquarters. Hundreds of people outside chanted “Withdraw! Withdraw! Withdraw!” — a message to Lam to take the extradition bill off the table.

“We want the government to stop working” until protester demands are met, said Edwin Chan, 27, a graphic designer. Chan wore a black mask in a crowd of protesters that brought foot traffic at the tower to a standstill.

‘Do Not Cross’ (2:30 p.m.)

Police put up a sign warning protesters not to cross their cordon at the entrance to the building. Retired Hongkonger Alexandra Wong, 63, was among the demonstrators outside. She lives across the Chinese border in Shenzhen, where she owns property, and said she commuted more than two hours into Hong Kong to protest — and hasn’t missed any in recent weeks.

Hong Kong Government Closes Headquarters as Protesters Gather

Police officers at the police headquarters in Wan Chai.

Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg

“We want her to withdraw the bill, not suspend,” she said of Lam. “And we want police to free all of those politically prisoners. And we want police not to use too much violence. We are peaceful.” Now, she said, “our freedom is growing smaller and smaller.”

Police Urge Calm (1 p.m.)

Hong Kong police held a news conference as crowds gathered outside their Wan Chai headquarters, Demonstrations were calm as of early afternoon, and the area near the city’s Legislative Council, ground zero for some of last week’s protests, was largely quiet. Police also said they would send negotiators to ask the protesters to leave. Prominent activist Joshua Wong, who had called earlier Friday for people to encircle the headquarters, said the protesters were there to meet with Police Commissioner Stephen Lo and not his negotiators. People chanted “police are shameless.” A line of officers guarded the entrance to the building.

relates to Protesters Enter Immigration Tower in Wan Chai: Hong Kong Update

Zero traffic on Gloucester Road.

Photographer: Eduardo Leal/Bloomberg

Lawyer and graphic designer Carly Chu, 30, said she and her fellow protesters wanted Lam “to withdraw, not just suspend” the bill.

Crowds at Police HQ (12 p.m.)

Thousands gathered outside Hong Kong’s police headquarters in the Wan Chai district at the urging of Wong, who asked Lo to meet protesters. Many wore black and had surgical masks on to disguise their identities.

Hong Kong Government Closes Headquarters as Protesters Gather

Protesters gather in front of the police headquarters.

Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg

The Civil Human Rights Front — which helped organize a week of historic demonstrations but was not overseeing Friday’s gathering — made an investigation into what it calls excessive violence and abuse of power by the police a major demand of a historic protest Sunday that it said brought 2 million people onto the streets. Lam and Lo have stood by the police’s behavior.

Joshua Wong Challenges Police (11:20 a.m.)

Wong called on protesters to encircle police headquarters in the nearby Wan Chai area, leading protesters to begin moving in that direction.

relates to Protesters Enter Immigration Tower in Wan Chai: Hong Kong Update

Joshua Wong during a protest outside the police headquarters in Wan Chai on June 21.

Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg

Protesters had blocked several lanes of Harcourt Road, a main thoroughfare through the city’s financial center, snarling traffic. At one point, some protesters outside the government headquarters formed a line of open umbrellas on the ground. People used umbrellas to protect themselves from pepper spray fired by police last week, and in mass pro-democracy demonstrations five years ago that became known as the “Umbrella Movement.”

The government temporarily closed the Central Government Offices and canceled a meeting of the Legislative Council’s transport panel. There was a very light police presence in the area.


Interactive: How Hong Kong Got a Million Protesters Out on the Streets

Martin Lee Speaks (8:45 a.m.)

The bill is a “thoroughly bad idea,” Martin Lee, founding chairman of the opposition Democratic Party and an elder statesman among city democrats, told Bloomberg Television in an interview. “Hong Kong people can only continue to demonstrate, and I hope peacefully, so that the world, the rest of the world, will speak up for us.”

Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng also apologized to the people of Hong Kong Friday morning in an official blog post, saying there had been “deficiencies” in authorities’ explanations of the bill. “The government has learned a hard lesson, but we remain hopeful that the experience gained will help us work better to meet the public’s expectations in future,” she wrote.

HONG KONG-CHINA-POLITICS

Protesters gather outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on June 21.

Photographer: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

Security chief John Lee has defended his personnel, saying they acted in defense against protesters who charged a police line blocking the city’s legislature in an attempt to storm the building. Some battled with riot police throughout the afternoon to prevent lawmakers from debating the controversial extradition bill.

— With assistance by Annabelle Droulers, Lulu Yilun Chen, Enda Curran, Yvonne Man, and Fion Li

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