Police fired water cannon and tear gas to clear Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters from outside the city’s parliament on Saturday, as demonstrators defied a ban on rallying and the arrests of leading activists to take to the streets for a 13th straight weekend.
Police had banned the demonstration on security grounds, then organisers had cancelled it, after last weekend saw some of the most violent clashes in months of political turmoil.
But large crowds, many in their signature black T-shirts and under a colourful canopy of umbrellas, snaked through Hong Kong island anyway, blocking roads and chanting “reclaim Hong Kong, revolution of our times”.
Chaos engulfed the financial heart of the city, with hardcore protesters throwing rocks, starting fires and shining laser pens at a rank of police behind a barricade at the city parliament known as the Legislative Council (LegCo).
Police fired a water cannon and rounds of tear gas to disperse protesters, who hit back with a barrage of molotov cocktails that left fires burning.
As dusk drew in, protesters smashed through the barrier outside the parliament building, but were repelled by tear gas and jets of blue-coloured liquid fired from the water cannon.
Local media reported the colour spray aimed to make it easier to identify suspects.
The LegCo was stormed on July 1 — the 22nd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule.
Earlier on Saturday protesters marched by the official residence of Hong Kong’s embattled Beijing-backed leader Carrie Lam, who is the focal point of anger after trying to pass a bill which would have allowed extradition to China.