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Protesters Defy Mask Ban

Police clash with demonstrators in Hong Kong after emergency powers are invoked
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2019 12:25 PM CDT
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Protesters in Hong Kong form a line to move supplies Sunday.   (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
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(Newser) – Tens of thousands of Hong Kong protesters answered the day-old ban on wearing masks by marching through the streets in a pouring rain Sunday, setting fires and breaking windows. Police fired tear gas and projectiles at the crowds, who yelled, "Wearing a mask is not a crime." The mask ban was the first use of the government's emergency powers in a half-century. Since the ban didn't deter protesters, the government now could decide to take more drastic steps, the Wall Street Journal reports, or face the prospect of China stepping in. Soldiers raised yellow warning flags Sunday for the first time and told protesters: "You are in breach of the law. You may be prosecuted."

Protesters obscured their faces with black surgical masks, towels, Guy Fawkes disguises and paper bags, per the Washington Post. The protests through streets with "Resist" spray-painted on them were peaceful for much of the day, and the crowds included people in wheelchairs and small children. "They can't arrest us all," a retiree in the crowd said, per the AP. Some demonstrators sounded like the ban changed things for them. "I just couldn't stand with the government anymore," a 28-year-old in a medical mask said. It was the 18th consecutive weekend of pro-democracy demonstrations. "We as the older ones should be ashamed of ourselves for not protecting our rights a long time ago," one man said, "and we should be embarrassed if we don't come out to fight for the future of the young." (Read more Hong Kong stories.)

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