Hong Kong police fired tear gas and nonlethal bullets at
anti-government protesters on Sunday evening as demonstrations
escalated across the city following a peaceful march to the US
consulate that drew thousands of residents.

Nonlethal shots were fired at protesters without warning after around
100 gathered at Mong Kok police station in the area of Kowloon,
chanting that police were “gangsters.”

Riot police soon appeared on the scene as protesters melted into side streets.

Protesters have gathered near the police building every night for the
past week, leaving funeral offerings at an adjacent subway station
entrance where residents widely believe someone was killed when police
cleared the station at a demonstration last week.

On Sunday, many continued to burn paper money and light candle sand
incense even as protesters built barricades nearby and police warned
protesters via loudspeaker to stand down.

Earlier rounds of tear gas were fired off in Causeway Bay, a shopping
district across the harbour on Hong Kong Island, where protesters had
gathered by the thousands following the U.S. consulate march.

As they walked, many built barricades and lit trash cans on fire in a
bid to slow down police.

Most, however, had left by the time riot police arrived, leaving them
to gas mostly journalists and bystanders who shouted at officers.

Several arrests were also made as dozens of officers surrounded small
groups of suspected protesters.

Riot police were stationed across the city for most of Sunday
including subway stations near where demonstrations were expected to
occur, cutting off avenues of escape for protesters who were forced to
change clothes and leave on foot in a bid to avoid arrest.

Earlier on Sunday, tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents marched to
the U.S. consulate in the afternoon as part of a police-approved march
to deliver a petition asking the U.S. Congress to sign a bill
containing punitive measures for officials found to have suppressed
“basic freedoms”.

“We hope the U.S. government can pass the act so Hong Kong’s autonomy
can be maintained.

“I think the ultimate goal is to let Hong Kong be Hong Kong,” said
Wendy, an accountant taking part in the protest.

Protesters carried U.S. flags and signs in English like “Resist
Beijing, liberate Hong Kong” and “Sanctions against those [who]
trample freedom, justice and humanity” as they marched through the
hilly streets of central Hong Kong island.

Many chanted slogans like “Five demands, not one less” and held up
their hands displaying five fingers in a call for leader Carrie Lam to
meet all of their demands.

Others sang the U.S. national anthem as they marched below the
sprawling diplomatic complex under the watchful eye of scores of riot
police stationed along the way, drawing the ire of many protesters who
shouted that they were “gangsters” in Cantonese.

Lam formally withdrew an extradition bill earlier this week that was
the trigger for the start of the protests three months ago, but the
move has failed to quell the demonstrations.

The bill would have amended Hong Kong law to allow residents to be
extradited to mainland China.

Since protests began on June 9, they have escalated into a mass
anti-government demonstration with demands including calls for
electoral reform.

Protesters have said they will continue to demonstrate until all of
their demands are met.

The focus of Sunday’s rally was the handing over of a petition calling
for U.S. legislators to sign off on the Hong Kong Human Rights and
Democracy Act.

The act – due to be debated at committee level in Congress – would
allow the U.S. the revoke the visa or freeze assets of Hong Kong
residents who were found to have harmed human rights in the
semi-autonomous Chinese city.

Protester Steve Nip said many in Hong Kong felt there was no one else
to hold the city’s leadership accountable as they are rubber-stamped
by Beijing.

He and others were also angry that Lam has failed to set up an
independent commission reviewing police violence during the protests.

Lam has instead said actions will be reviewed by an existing police committee.

Nip said police had behaved in an “inhumane” manner when they arrested
protesters but were now accountable to no one.

Hong Kong is a former British colony that returned to Chinese
sovereignty in 1997.

It was promised special rights and privileges until 2047 under the
“one country, two systems” agreement, dpa and NAN report.

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