Protesters break Legco glass walls, change national flag

Thousands of Hong Kong protesters surrounded the Legco building in Admiralty on Monday with dozens of them breaking glass walls while some others changed the national flag in Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai into a darkened one.

In the early morning on July 1, which marks the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s 1997 handover from the the British to the Chinese government, hundreds of protesters gathered in Admiralty and Wan Chai. At around 4am, they blocked Lung Wo Road and Harcourt Road with metal barricades. Some protesters changed the national flag outside Legco to a darkened version of the SAR flag while the official SAR flag hung at half-mast beside it.

Hundreds of armed police were patrolling around the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center in Wan Chai as a flag-raising ceremony was scheduled at the nearby Bauhinia Square at 8am. The police had placed large water-filled barricades around the area since Sunday.

At 7:20am, police wearing shields and helmets had clashed with the protestors on Fenwick Pier Street, according to RTHK. They used pepper spray and batons to push the protesters back. They also tried to disperse the protesters on Harcourt Road.

The scheduled flag-raising ceremony kicked off at 8pm but it was done in a rainy day arrangement that Chief Executive Carrie Lam Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and top officials could only watch proceedings through a live broadcast from inside the exhibition center.Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she will listen to the Hong Kong people. Photo: RTHK

Read: Youth groups not invited to July 1 flag-raising

In her speech, Lam said she has taken a lesson after the Hong Kong government failed to explain the extradition bill clearly to the public. She said she will change her governing style and listen to the people from different community, particularly the young people. However, she did not mention about the death of the three young people, who reportedly committed suicide as they felt desperate about the extradition bill.

A 21-year-old female student of the Education University of Hong Kong jumped to death from her home in Fan Ling on Saturday after leaving an anti-extradition note on a wall. A 29-year-old women jumped to death from the International Finance Center in Central. She was said to have posted a message on social media, saying that she felt hopeless about Hong Kong’s future.

Since an anti-extradition protester fell down and died in Pacific Place on June 14, non-government organisations have called the public to help those who felt depressed about the extradition bill.

Read: People pay tribute to Hong Kong protester who died

After the flag-rising ceremony on Monday morning, protesters have occupied key roads in Admiralty and surrounded the Legco building. At around 1:30pm, dozens of protesters decided to escalate their protests by crushing the glass walls with a metal trolley and some metal bars.

Several pro-democracy lawmakers tried to persuade the protestors to give up their actions but they failed. Lawmaker Claudia Mo told the protesters that they could be jailed up to 10 years if they break into the Legco building by force. The protesters told Mo that they would take their responsibilities as they felt they could not do nothing after three people died.

Lester Shum, a Hong Kong social activist and one of the young leaders in the 2014 Umbrella Movement, said in a post on Facebook that he was told by some social workers that a dozen of protesters were willing to “sacrifice their lives” in protests.

A glass wall is broken in Legco building. Photo: RTHK

At 4pm, one of the glass walls on the ground floor of the Legco building was broken while cracks were seen in some other glass walls. Some protesters entered the building.

Legco President Andrew Leung, as well as the pro-establishment camp, condemned the behavior of protesters. The Hong Kong government also issued a statement to condemn the protestors.

While the police redeployed their manpower to the Legco, a group of protesters changed the national flag in Bauhinia Square into a darkened version of the SAR flag at 2pm. At 5pm, the government announced to cancel the flag-folding ceremony in a reason of “maintenance.”

At 3pm, tens of thousands of Hong Kong people began a march organised by the Civil Human Rights Front in Causeway Bay. They called for Carrie Lam to step down and the withdrawal of the extradition bill. When they arrived Admiralty at around 4:30pm, some of them went to support the occupiers outside the Legco building while some walked towards Central before ending their journeys.

The Civil Human Rights Front said a total of 550,000 people joined the July 1 march.

A lot of July 1 marchers go to support the occupiers near the government headquarter. Photo: Asia Times

Protesters mourn the death of an anti-extradition Hong Kong student who killed herself. Photo: Asia Times

Hundreds of police are standing by in the government headquarter. Photo: Asia Times

Paintings mocking government officials Photo: Asia Times

Protesters block key roads in Admiralty. Photo: Asia Times