Hong Kong police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at demonstrators on June 12, as tens of thousands protested in front of the Legislative Council building, against the proposed extradition bill.
“These [protesters] are your classmates, your relative, you neighbors!” a Hong Kong resident shouted to the police while trying to persuade them not to use force.
However, at about 3 p.m., riot police began to disperse the crowd with tear gas and pepper spray. They later confirmed that they also used plastic bullets, bean bags, and batons.
At least 72 people were injured, two in serious condition.
The protest started from 8 a.m. in the morning as residents and pro-democracy legislators called on the Legislative Council not to pass the proposed extradition bill.
“We only want to paralyze the legislative council, so please don’t rush in,” Hong Kong democratic party leader Wu Chi-Wai told the crowd. “Don’t get beaten and don’t let others make excuses for you, OK?”
“The colleagues of the democrats, will fight till the end in the legislative council,” said Pan-democratic lawmaker lam Cheuk Ting.
The government later delayed the debate on the bill until further notice.
The bill was initially proposed in February. If passed, it would mean people living or traveling in Hong Kong could be sent to mainland China to stand trial. Many worry this would be used to target critics of the Chinese Communist Party.
“All these years everyone has seen that the Hong Kong government is a minion of the Communist Party,” a student from Hong Kong University told NTD at the Wednesday protest.
“After the umbrella movement, they haven’t changed,” he said. “A few days ago on June 9, so many of us, over a million people took the street, and she [Chief executive Carrie Lam] acts as if she has seen nothing. And triggered more people to come out today to support the movement.”
In a video speech released on Wednesday evening, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam called the protest a “riot situation.” She vowed to defend the bill and push it through.
The Epoch Times reporter Li Yi and NTD reporter Liang Zhen contributed to this article.