Hundreds join sit-in at school of shot Hong Kong protester

Hundreds join sit-in at school of shot Hong Kong protester

Hundreds of people, wearing school uniform or black t-shirts, began a sit-in on Wednesday outside the school of an 18-year-old protester who remains in hospital after being shot by police in violent skirmishes on Tuesday. 

Authorities said Tsang Chi-kin was in a stable condition.

The city has been left reeling from the shooting, the first time a demonstrator has been struck with a live round in nearly four months of protests, which came as mainland China celebrated 70 years of Communist Party rule in Beijing.

The spiralling violence underscored seething public anger against Beijing’s rule and overshadowed China’s military parade and carefully-choreographed festivities.

Hong Kong protester shot in the chest by police during clashes

Running battles raged for hours across numerous areas of the city as groups of protesters hurled rocks and petrol bombs. Police responded for the most part with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon.

Tsang was shot during skirmishes in Tsuen Wan district, after protesters brandishing poles and umbrellas surrounded police and an officer fired his weapon at close range into the 18-year-old’s chest.

Police said the officer feared for his life.

But protest groups said the officer charged into the melee with his firearm drawn, and condemned the increasing use of live rounds.

‘New territory’

Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler, reporting from outside the hospital where Tsang is receiving treatment, said the shooting could be a tipping point.

“Protesters have been on the streets for four months,” he said. “This is new territory we’re in now.”

Secondary school students were planning a mass class boycott following the shooting.

Outside Tsang’s school on Monday students chanted slogans and held pictures of the incident, taken from videos posted on Facebook.

“No rioters, only tyranny,” they chanted, alongside other popular protest slogans.

One activist, her face covered in the now ubiquitous gas masks worn by protesters, sat next to a sign that read: “With blood tears and sweat we shall stride ahead.”

Tsang, who was filmed trying to strike the officer with a pole as he was shot, was taken to a nearby hospital in a critical condition but authorities said his condition has since improved.

“According to the latest information of the Hospital Authority, the current condition of the man is stable,” the government said in a statement.

A friend and classmate of Tsang, who gave his first name as Marco, said the 18-year-old was a keen basketballer and was infuriated by sliding freedoms in Hong Kong and the police response to the protests.

“If he sees any problems or anything unjust, he would face it bravely, speak up against it, instead of bearing it silently,” Marco told AFP.

Hong Kong’s police chief Stephen Lo said police would investigate the circumstances of the shooting, but defended his officers’ conduct.

Police said 25 officers were injured in the clashes, including some who suffered chemical burns from a corrosive liquid that was thrown at them by protesters. The liquid also hit some journalists.

A man is detained by police during clashes in the Wanchai district in Hong Kong on October 1, 2019, as the city observes the National Day holiday to mark the 70th anniversary of communist China's fou
A man detained by police during clashes in the Wanchai district of Hong Kong on Tuesday. [Anthony Wallace/AFP]

Hardening mood

Hospital authorities said more than 60 people were admitted on Tuesday, two in a critical condition. Police made some 160 arrests throughout the day.

Hong Kong’s protests were ignited by a now-scrapped plan to allow extraditions to the mainland.

But they have snowballed into a wider movement calling for democratic freedoms and police accountability.

With Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam seemingly unwilling or unable to find a political solution, police have been left to deal with the increasingly angry protesters.

Sentiment is hardening on all sides.   

Protesters and some local residents routinely shout “triads” and other abuse at officers who are often heard calling demonstrators “cockroaches” and other slurs in return.

Some 96 people are expected to be brought to court on Wednesday morning to face charges of rioting in relation to protests held last motnh. They face up to ten years in prison, if found guilty.

The protest movement’s main demands are an independent inquiry into police actions, an amnesty for those arrested and universal suffrage.

Beijing and Lam have said they are unwilling to meet those demands.

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