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As Tear-Gassed Protesters Leave, Bystanders Step Up

Hong Kong residents are caught in the confrontations
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 10, 2019 3:44 PM CDT
A child takes shelter near a sign that reads "I want to shout, I want to jump, I hope Hong Kong's future will continue" during a march billed as "Save our Children" in Hong Kong on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
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(Newser) – After the protesters evacuated, the residents took their place. In one Hong Kong neighborhood on Saturday, riot police fired multiple rounds of tear gas, prompting demonstrators to flee after they started a fire outside a police station and threw eggs at its exterior. But while the pro-democracy protesters left to occupy yet another district, the AP reports, the residents who were watching from the sidelines descended by the hundreds. They watched as officers grabbed a woman who was wearing neither a black shirt nor a mask—the telltale attire of a protester. The crowd surrounded the police and yelled: "Let her go! Let her go!" More than two months of mass demonstrations in Hong Kong have given way to routine clashes between protesters and police. Protesters lead police from neighborhood to neighborhood, leaving hastily constructed roadblocks in their wake. "The strategy is, when the police come we will leave and change to a different place," one protester told the Guardian.

Residents have increasingly been caught in the fray. Not all back the movement, which began in June against an extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be sent to the mainland to stand trial. It has since morphed into calls for broader democratic reforms and violent acts of defiance against the police, who in turn have been accused of excessive force and deliberate negligence. "I support them, though I don't agree with all their methods," Annie Chan, a 51-year-old accountant, told the AP at a shopping plaza that protesters briefly occupied. "Most of us middle-aged people understand that the younger generation feels helpless."

(Read more Hong Kong stories.)

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