Thousands of demonstrators in Hong Kong , a semi autonomous Chinese territory pleaded with President Donald Trump to “liberate” them during a peaceful march into the U.S. Consulate on Sunday. The march started out peaceful but violence broke out later in the business and retail district as police fired tear gas after protesters, vandalizing subway stations, setting fires and blocking traffic
Tens of thousands filled the streets and parks surrounding the Consulate, singing The Star Spangled Banner and many of them carrying the American flag chanting, “Fight for freedom! Stand with us!”
As many marched to the U.S. Consulate wearing black shirts and masks waving the American Flag under the watchful eyes of riot police, they carried posters that read, “President Trump, please liberate Hong Kong.”
“Hong Kong is at the forefront of the battle against the totalitarian regime of China,” Panzer Chan, one of the organizers of the march, told the Associated Press. “Please support us in our fight.”
For the past three months Hong Kong has been fighting a proposed law that would allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial. Many saw the extradition bill as a glaring example of the erosion of civil liberties and rights promised under a “one country, two systems” framework when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997. Hong Kong’s government vowed this past week to formally withdraw the bill, but that did not quiet the demonstrators. They have expanded their demands to include calls for direct elections for the city’s leaders and an independent probe into alleged police brutality against protesters.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper counseled Beijing to use “restraint” in its dealing with Hong Kong, a British colony that was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
“We would obviously urge restraint and not to act, and to sit down and talk with the protesters and resolve the differences,” Esper said at a press conference in Paris on Saturday.
Protesters on Sunday urged Washington to pass a bill, known as the Hong Kong Democratic and Human Rights Act, to support their cause. The bill proposes sanctions against Hong Kong and Chinese officials found to suppress democracy and human rights in the city, and could also affect Hong Kong’s preferential trade status with the U.S.
Demonstrators Sunday chanted “Five demands! Not one less!” in reference to their platform, which calls for steps such as an investigation into police actions during the demonstrations, amnesty for arrested protesters and direct elections to choose the city’s politicians.
As protesters and riot police squared off on improvised battlegrounds all throughout the city this weekend there continued to be outbreaks of violence
The Sunday protests began peacefully but later turned violent when police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds that converged on the city’s Central District, where banks, jewelry stores and high-end clothing shops are located.
The demonstrators smashed windows, vandalized a subway station, ignited fires in the street and put up barricades.