Hong Kong Protests Erupt in Violence

Vivienne Scott

After weeks of standoffs between protesters and police, the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong erupted in violence again late on Saturday night and early Sunday morning. The situation began to escalate on October 14, when protesters shut down a major artery on the Hong Kong road system -- Lung Wo Road. Police went after protesters, according to media reports, and some ended up injured and even in the hospital.

At that time, they used pepper spray, and batons, and punched and kicked protesters. By October 16, anger over what had happened a couple of days earlier erupted when protesters shut down the road for a second time. Many of the roads in Hong Kong's Admiralty district have been shut down in recent weeks with protesters who are literally camping out night and day, waiting to talk with government officials about deep-rooted concerns over the election process for local officials.

The protests have literally paralyzed parts of Hong Kong, as protesters and officials seemed locked in a standoff with almost no end in sight.

Sunday morning's violence came as something of a surprise, in light of the fact that long-awaited talks between protesters and government officials are scheduled to take place on Tuesday. Many Hong Kong police, armed with riot gear that included helmets and shields, pushed into a crowd near a barricade, injuring about 20.

Sunday's protest involved more than 100 police, many outfitted in riot gear, near one of Hong Kong's busiest shopping districts. At least three protesters and one police officer were injured, according to officials.

The talks with Hong Kong officials are set to happen on Tuesday because that is reportedly the earliest that the government can meet with protesters, who are largely young students. Protest leaders want to speak with Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who has so far refused to speak with them, but will ostensibly be present during Tuesday's talks.

The violence related to the Hong Kong protests has gone through peaks and valleys, with days of drawn-out boredom as students waited for some kind of response from government officials. On Friday, three police officers were injured in Mong Kok. Hundreds of police tried to tear down barricades that protesters had set up.

The monikers of the protests, "Occupy Central" and the "Umbrella Revolution," has been based in civil disobedience. They are aimed at preventing the Chinese Communist Party, which rules China's mainland, from interfering with the politics of Hong Kong.

[Photo: Flickr Commons]