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    Saturday, December 7, 2019-3:41:31P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Hong Kong police fire tear gas as thousands take to the streets in fresh protests

HONG KONG (Reuters) — Police fired tear gas to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday, ending a rare lull in violence, as residents took to the streets chanting “revolution of our time” and “liberate Hong Kong.”

The protest in the busy shopping district of Tsim Sha Tsui followed a march by hundreds of people to the U.S. consulate to show “gratitude” for U.S. support for the demonstrations that have agitated the Chinese-ruled city for six months.

Shops and businesses in the area closed early as police sprayed volleys of tear gas at protesters, including some elderly residents and others with their pets, as they marched past the city’s Kowloon waterfront, home to luxury hotels and shopping malls.

Police made several arrests as the tear gas sent hundreds fleeing toward the harbor.

Hong Kong, a major financial hub, had enjoyed relative calm for the past week since local elections last Sunday delivered an overwhelming victory to pro-democracy candidates.

Activists pledged, however, to maintain the momentum of the anti-government movement. Protests in the former British colony since June have at times forced the closure of government offices, businesses, schools and even the international airport.

Waving posters that read “Never forget why you started” and black flags with the logo “Revolution now,” protesters occupied several main roads on Sunday, with young residents and families with children filling the nearby streets.

“We had demonstrations, peaceful protests, lobbying inside the council, a lot of things we have done but they all failed,” said Felix, a 25-year-old university graduate.

“There are still five demands,” he said, referring to protesters’ calls that include an independent inquiry into police behavior and the implementation of universal suffrage.

Some black-clad protesters wearing gas masks built barricades and blocked roads near luxury stores, including Armani, while others headed toward Hung Hom, a district near the ruined campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

The campus turned into a battleground in mid-November when protesters barricaded themselves in and faced off riot police in violent clashes of petrol bombs, water cannon and tear gas.

About 1,100 people were arrested last week, some while trying to escape.

Police withdrew from the university on Friday after collecting evidence and removing dangerous items including thousands of petrol bombs, arrows and chemicals that had been strewn around the site.

By Sunday night, the crowds of protesters had diminished and some roads reopened to traffic. Police said hundreds of “rioters” had hurled smoke bombs, “stirring up public fear and causing chaos” which forced them to fire tear gas.