Clad in gas masks along with their formal white school uniforms, the AP reports that tens of thousands of students in Hong Kong boycotted the first day of classes Monday as part of a citywide strike following a violent weekend of demonstrations. High school students added gas masks, goggles, and hard hats to their traditional uniforms, while university pupils crowded into a square at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Workers also participated in their own rally at a public park, braving strong winds and storm clouds as a typhoon threatened. Nearly three months of youth-dominated protests—calling for democracy and an independent inquiry into police conduct—will be tested as classes resume with the end of the summer break. The young protesters strove to demonstrate their continued determination with Monday's school boycott, the first of a planned two-day strike.
Jacky So, president of the Chinese University of Hong Kong's student union, said 30,000 students attended a rally on campus. They dressed in black and wore face masks, waving black signs with the Chinese character for "Strike." High school students rallied in Hong Kong's central business district, with teens speaking in front of a backdrop that read: "With no future, there's no need to go to class." At St. Francis' Canossian College, uniformed students kneeled in a line and held up hand-painted signs that read, "The five major demands: Not one is dispensable." Radical protesters have "hijacked the name of justice," Assistant Commissioner of Police Mak Chin-ho said Monday. "The biggest victims are the citizens of Hong Kong." Clashes between police and protesters have become increasingly violent, as demonstrators use gas bombs and throw rods at officers. Authorities in turn have employed water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets, and batons.
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