Large Hong Kong pro-democracy protests grow chaotic with assault on legislature

Hong Kong protesters smash window at legislature
(Image credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Al Jazeera)

Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents amassed Monday for a pro-democracy demonstration on the 22nd anniversary of the day Britain handed over control of the city to China, on the understanding that Hong Kong would retain some autonomy from Beijing. This year's protest was unusually large due to anger over proposed legislation that would allow extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China and its Communist Party-run courts. Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam apologized and suspended consideration of the legislation June 15 after massive and sometimes violent demonstrations. Protesters want her to scrap the bill permanently and resign.

A small group of protesters broke though a reinforced glass window at the Legislative Council with a metal cart Monday, then dismantled part of a glass and metal exterior wall, but riot police inside have prevented anyone from entering the legislature building. The organizers of the main protest expect up to a million people to join an afternoon march, though they changed the endpoint to a park instead of the legislature, given the escalating confrontation there.

Earlier Monday, protesters tried to force their way into the square around the convention center, where Hong Kong leaders were holding the annual flag-raising ceremony to mark the 1997 handover of the city. The protesters were repelled by police using batons and pepper spray. Inside the convention center, Lam said the furor over the legislation had made her "fully realize that I, as a politician, have to remind myself all the time of the need to grasp public sentiments accurately," and "I will learn the lesson and ensure that the government's future work will be closer and more responsive to the aspirations, sentiments, and opinions of the community."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.