Thousands of pro-democracy protesters remain on the streets of Hong Kong, despite having been doused by tear gas and pepper spray during yesterday’s anti-government demonstrations.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the demonstrations were elicited in response to Beijing’s decision to impose limits on how Hong Kong elects its leader. Riot police were used in order to coerce and cajole citizens from acting out, resulting in the injury of more than 40 people.
The main limit imposed by Beijing states that only Beijing-vetted candidates will be allowed to stand in the city’s 2017 election for the top civil position of chief executive.
According to CNN , protesters say Beijing has gone back on its pledge to allow universal suffrage in Hong Kong, which was promised a “high degree of autonomy” when it was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.
As a result, many citizens marched yesterday in three important districts of the city – Admiralty, the shopping district of Causeway Ban, and Mong Kok.
There appears to have been no central organizing authority , and student leaders didn’t offer any plans or strategies.
Protesters simply took to the streets among shoppers and workers who were following their everyday schedules.
However, the police crackdown was brutal, and involved tear gas, batons, and pepper spray.
These measures shocked and enraged protesters, and they began calling out for the resignation of current Chief Executive C.Y.
In a conference this morning, Assistant Police Commissioner Cheung Tak-Keung explained the government’s reasoning, stating that the decision to use tear gas and pepper spray came after some protesters tried to breach police lines.
According to Tak-Keung, the police had no alternative.
The government has since adopted a more peaceful method of handling the demonstrations by withdrawing riot police from the protest areas. It also urged people to disperse and allow traffic to return to the roads.
However, protesters are not budging.
Hong Kong is a city that has been known for its peaceful protests, and the government backlash is unprecedented.
Chinese news outlets are reporting that the protests are “disrupting social order and stability,” and are currently criticizing the pro-democracy movement.
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, the unity of the protesters remains clear.
A young protester named Nikki told CNN, “As long as there’s one person that’s still out here on this highway, I’m going to be here.”