Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters clash with rivals

Sept. 14 (UPI) — Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters clashed Saturday with Beijing supporters in a mall.

In the standoff at a mall in Kowloon Bay, dozens of pro-government protesters waved Chinese flags and chanted “support the police,” as pro-democracy demonstrators gathered dressed in black outfits and wearing masks.

The clash broke into a scuffle as they began to throw punches at each other and hit each other with umbrellas before the police separated them. At least one man was bleeding from the head.

The pro-democracy mass protests started in June against proposed legislation that would allow suspected criminals to be extradited to mainland China. Though the bill has been withdrawn, protests have continued with demands for democratic reforms and investigations into alleged police brutality.

Clashes with Beijing supporters have recently escalated.

In one incident, demonstrators surrounded a woman they accused of filming them and refused to let her leave. Police tackled and subdued several people, according to witnesses, some of whom were local residents going to the mall.

Earlier Saturday a fight broke out between pro-Beijing protesters in blue T-shirts and Fortress Hill residents near “Lennon wall” protest art set up by demonstrators after the art was torn down.

Groups of men were seen using Chinese flags to beat mostly younger men in videos. A group chased and kicked a young man until a passerby shielded him with his body in one scene.

Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters also marched in Tin Shui Wai, a neighborhood in Hong Kong’s new territories, defying a police ban on the event.

A day earlier thousands of Hong Kong protesters marked the mid-autumn festival by forming human chains across the city similar to one formed last month despite new government concessions.

Protesters formed a torch-lit human chain across the Lion Rock and Victoria Peak hills of Hong Kong on Friday similar to the more than 20-mile human chain they formed on on Aug. 23. Organizers said the human chains are inspired by the 1989 human chain formed across Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania amid the crumbling Soviet Union.

The demonstrators chanted “Stand with Hong Kong, fight for freedom.”

Over the past week, demonstrators have gathered in malls across the city to sing “Glory to Hong Kong,” which has become the unofficial anthem of protests.

More than 100 secondary students also gathered in central Hong Kong to sing the anthem.

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, has said she will permanently withdraw the extradition bill, and on Thursday, she attempted to offer more concessions, posting on Facebook that she would seek to address concerns over jobs and high rents.

“Housing is a top priority for people’s livelihood, and the government’s measures to increase housing supply will only come one after another, and will never go,” Lam posted on Facebook Thursday.

China celebrates the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China Thursday and some protest observers believe authorities are eager to stop the protests before that day.