Protesters dispersed after mobbing HK malls

The Straits Times, Hong Kong :
Most protesters have departed the sites of rallies at malls in Hong Kong’s Kowloon and New Territories districts on Sunday (Sept 22), after an afternoon that saw some people vandalise a train station before clashing with riot police in Sha Tin.
Riot police fired multiple rounds of tear gas in Sha Tin, in New Territories, on Sunday afternoon to disperse radical protesters.
The protesters had set fire to barricades they built on the road outside New Town Plaza mall, which police said was endangering the safety of the public and affecting traffic in the area.
Protesters responded to the tear gas by throwing bricks and a petrol bomb at the police, Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK reported.
The protesters had taken to the streets following a protest inside New Town Plaza mall earlier in the day.
They set fire to barricades made of metal railings and other objects on Yuen Wo Road, TV footage from Apple Daily showed. Riot police then charged at the protesters to disperse them.
Police then hoisted a black flag to warn of the use of tear

gas. A statement released by the police also warned all protestors to stop illegal acts and leave immediately. Get exclusive insights into Asia from our network of correspondents
The New Town Plaza shopping centre in Sha Tin was earlier vandalised, with protesters spraying water as well as pouring oil and liquid soap onto the floor of the mall, according to TVB footage.
Two subway stations were closed after facilities within the premises were vandalised.
Services on Tsing Yi MTR station on the Tung Chung Line were suspended and passengers were asked to leave the station immediately. Earlier, protesters had sprayed an unspecified liquid at the entrances. Riot police were seen inside the station, according to footage from Apple Daily.
Sha Tin MTR station in the New Territories was also shut, after facilities such as ticketing machines, entrance barriers and CCTV cameras there were vandalised.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of people, young and old, gathered in New Town Plaza to protest after the night of clashes between police and radical demonstrators.
The mostly black-clad protesters chanted slogans, including “Hong Kong people, keep it up”, “Fight for freedom”, and “Liberate Hong Kong”. They also sang the new Hong Kong “anthem”, Glory To Hong Kong.
Families were making origami paper birds with slogans and pinning them on frames. One slogan written on the birds and common throughout the protests is “Five demands, not one less”.
Protesters also targeted shops and businesses from mainland China in the mall, RTHK reported. These shops, including Chinese tech giant Huawei and a mainland tea shop chain, quickly pulled down their shutters.
The new tactic from demonstrators showed a simmering anger toward the city’s business elites, a relatively small group of tycoons and cronies who have accumulated enormous wealth and political clout, often through cosy relationships with the mainland.
While the contentious extradition Bill that sparked the ongoing political crisis was withdrawn earlier this month, Sunday’s demonstrations again illustrated that the deep unhappiness within the city goes far beyond a single piece of legislation and will not be easily – or quickly – resolved.
“We have to try to paralyse it (the mall), then the government will have a loss of revenue and they will listen to us.” said Kenneth, 24, an actuary, who gathered with hundreds of others at the New Town Plaza shopping mall in the Sha Tin district.
Protesters there targeted Chinese linked businesses like Maxim’s Jade Garden restaurant, flooding the automated reservation system with requests and taping together the receipts into an ad hoc protest banner.
Maxim’s Caterers Limited, which operates the restaurant, is a major food and beverage conglomerate that operates numerous bakeries and restaurants across Hong Kong, notably the Seattle-based coffee chain Starbucks. The company has recently become a target of protesters.
Their anger stems from Ms Annie Wu, the daughter of the company founder and a staunch supporter of Beijing, who spoke at the United Nations earlier this month in defence of the Hong Kong government.
Her support of the government and police has made her a darling of Chinese-state media.
Tiffany, 25, a kindergarten teacher who took part in Sunday’s demonstration, said Ms Wu was “bending all of the reasons why we come out to the streets. She only sees what the protesters destroy, but she doesn’t see the reasons why.”
Ms Wu spoke at the UN along with Ms Pansy Ho, a billionaire gambling heiress who said she “hijacked the well-intended Bill and used it to spread fear among Hong Kongers”, prompting ridicule from protesters who said that Ms Ho, whose worth Forbes pegs at US$4.3 billion (S$5.92 billion), was grossly disconnected from the general population.
At V Walk, another shopping mall in the Sham Shui Po area of Kowloon, dozens of protesters marched past stores chanting “liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time”.
The group quickly laid siege to a Best Mart 360 outlet, a convenience store chain whose owner has deep ties to the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian, forcing the shop to shutter and sending protesters into a victorious roar before they quickly moved along.
“We have to fight in different ways. We have used a lot of methods already, occupying shopping malls is a new one,” said one female protester in her thirties who wore a black mask and said she was alerted to the demonstration after seeing posts on Instagram earlier in the day.
A group of protesters trampled on a Chinese national flag – which protesters had taken from outside the nearby Sha Tin Town Hall – to the cheers and applause of other demonstrators and bystanders at the mall, according to footage from Apple Daily.

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