Protesters Hit Streets Amid Debate on Tactics: Hong Kong Update

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong braced for another weekend of protests, even as the city continued to clean up from a destructive wave of demonstrations last week that shut down malls, supermarkets and much of the transit system.

While protesters had a full schedule of events planned for the weekend, some demonstrators have been debating whether to soften their tactics to avoid alienating more moderate supporters. Upcoming marches include one to support medical staff, firefighters, journalists and security guards on Saturday, and rallies across the city’s 18 districts on Sunday.

The protests erupted on June 9 in opposition to Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s now-withdrawn legislation that would’ve allowed extraditions to mainland China have since expanded into a push for greater democracy. Last week, tens of thousands of people flooded Hong Kong’s streets after Lam banned protesters from wearing masks in her latest effort to rein in the unrest.

Here’s the latest (all times local):

Mask ban arrests climb to 90 (4:55 p.m.)

Hong Kong police said they had arrested a total of 90 people as of Wednesday on suspicion of violating the mask ban. That’s up from 77 a day earlier.

Lam’s decision to implement the ban under a colonial-era emergency ordinance that hadn’t been invoked in more than half a century sparked a destructive series of protests. The measure carries a possible sentence of as long as one year in jail.

Some protests planned:
  • Friday (9 p.m.): Singing protest anthems in malls
  • Saturday (3 p.m.): Anti-emergency law march in Kowloon
  • Sunday (2 p.m.): Rallies in 18 districts

Police to probe assault claims (3:12 p.m.)

Hong Kong police pledged to investigate a protester’s allegation that she was sexually assaulted by officers, after she dramatically shared her story at a university event.

The woman, Sonia Ng, said she was assaulted in a dark body-search room at a detention center near the mainland Chinese border on Aug. 31 and wasn’t the only one who “suffered sexual violence.” Ng removed the face mask she was wearing in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 people and challenged university administrators present to take a stand against police violence.

March through business district (1:30 p.m.)

Hundreds once again marched through the Hong Kong’s central business district, disrupting traffic as they held up banners and placards. Many were wearing office attire, suggesting they were protesting during their lunch break. Some were also wearing masks in defiance of the ban.

Protesters debate vandalism (10:59 a.m.)

Hong Kong protesters are debating whether to lower the temperature as the battered financial center girds for another weekend of tear gas and petrol bombs. One post widely circulated on LIHKG -- a Reddit-like forum popular with Hong Kong’s youth -- warned that further violence risked creating internal splits within the broader pro-democracy movement, which has vigorously discussed the merits of peaceful versus more radical and disruptive actions.

“The general public, including foreigners, will think the violence is escalating to the point of being indiscriminate,” the user wrote in a post that garnered more than 3,000 “upvotes.”

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