As violent protest and skirmishes continue in Hong Kong for the second day straight following a pro-democracy march, a video has emerged showing police officers pointing guns at the crowd in a bid to scare them.
Footage posted on a number of social media sites appears to show police kicking an unarmed civilian. Protesters also said that a shot was also fired, although The Independent was unable to verify these claims.
“Hong Kong police kicked an unarmed civilian who is kneeled... drew the pistol to the civilians and journalists and fired one shot to the sky,” a spokesperson from Free Hong Kong wrote on Twitter.
Footage posted online shows protesters chasing police with sticks and umbrellas before the sound of what could be a gunshot is heard.
Prior to the skirmishes, tens of thousands of umbrella-carrying protesters marched in the rain in Hong Kong’s latest pro-democracy demonstration.
Many filled Tsuen Wan Park, the endpoint of the rally, chanting, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong”, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.
The march started near the Kwai Fong railway station, which has become a focal point for protesters after police used tear gas in the station earlier this month. Police with riot gear could be seen moving into position along the march route.
While a large crowd rallied in a nearby park, another group of protesters took over a main street, strewing bamboo poles on the pavement and lining up orange and white traffic barriers and cones to try to obstruct the police.
After hoisting warning flags, police used tear gas to try to disperse the crowd. They also brought out water cannon trucks for the first time in the summer-long protests. Protesters responded by throwing bricks and petrol bombs towards the police.
Rory Wong, a protester who witnessed the clash, said: "The escalation you're seeing now is just a product of our government's indifference toward the people of Hong Kong."
Protesters have taken to the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s streets for more than two months. Their demands include democratic elections and an investigation into police use of force to quell the protests.
Throughout the summer of portest tear gas has been used by officers, with some firing from office blocks to disperse crowds. Hong Kong resident Dong Wong said: “I live on the 15th floor and I can even smell it at home,".
"I have four dogs, sneezing, sneezing all day ... The protesters didn't do anything, they just blocked the road to protect themselves."
A large group clashed with police on Saturday after a march in the Kowloon Bay neighbourhood, building barricades and setting fires in the streets.
Police said they arrested 29 people, ranging from 17 to 52 years old, for various offences, including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons and assaulting police officers.
The clashes, while not as prolonged or violent as some earlier ones, ended a brief lull in the violence. The protests had been largely peaceful the previous weekend, after weeks of escalating violence.
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Protesters in Hong Kong have demanded that the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, step down, though that demand has evolved into a broader call for fully democratic elections.
M. Sung, a 53-year-old software engineer in a black mask emblematic of the many older, middle-class citizens at the march, said he had been at almost every protest and would keep coming.
“We know this is the last chance to fight for ‘one country, two systems’, otherwise the Chinese Communist Party will penetrate our home city and control everything,” he said.
“If we keep a strong mind, we can sustain this movement for justice and democracy. It won’t die,” Mr Sung said.
Protesters say they are fighting the erosion of the “one country, two systems” arrangement under which Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 with the promise of continued freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland for 50 years.
Police and protesters clash in Hong Kong as tear gas and bricks are thrown
The protests, which started over a now-suspended extradition bill, have rocked Hong Kong for three months and plunged the city into its biggest political crisis since the handover.
They also pose a direct challenge for Communist Party leaders in Beijing, who are eager to quell the unrest ahead of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Police said they strongly condemned protesters “breaching public peace” and that 19 men and 10 women had been arrested after Saturday’s violence. More than 700 have been arrested since the demonstrations began in June.
The neighbouring gambling territory of Macau, a former Portuguese colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1999, elected former legislature head Ho Iat Seng as its leader on Sunday – the sole approved candidate.
Mr Ho, who has deep ties to China, is expected to cement Beijing’s control over the “special administrative region”, the same status given to Hong Kong, and distance it from the unrest there.
Additional reporting by Press Association