Hong Kong Protesters Storm Legislative Chamber, Vandalize Building UPDATE: Protesters Agree to Leave

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Posted: Jul 01, 2019 11:30 AM
Hong Kong Protesters Storm Legislative Chamber, Vandalize Building UPDATE: Protesters Agree to Leave

Source: AP Photo/Kin Cheung

UPDATE: The protesters agreed to leave the legislative building after the police said they will "sweep" the building. Most are vacating the premise, but a few intend to stay for a final showdown with the police, according to a tweet.

ORIGINAL:

Thousands of Hong Kong protesters forcefully broke into the city-state’s legislative building and vandalized it, escalating weeks of protest to a new level on Monday night. 

The dissidents, clad in yellow helmets and coughing masks to protect their identities, tore down the metal fences surrounding the legislative complex and shattered windows. Within hours, the protesters assumed control of the building, spray-painting slogans and raising the Hong Kong colonial government flags.

Hong Kong’s police defended the complex for hours but were “nowhere to be seen” as the protesters broke into the building, an eyewitness tweeted. 

The city state’s police force has promised that they will “clear the vicinity shortly and if obstructed or resisted, the police would use an appropriate level of force” in a statement posted on Facebook, the Guardian reported.

Conflicting reports are coming out about how the protesters are reacting to the police statement. Some say the protesters hope to stand their ground, while others tweeted that most protesters have vacated the premises already.

A pro-Democratic legislator raised concerns that the demonstrators may have been lured into a “trap” set by the government. The lawmaker warned that the radical action may alienate supporters and justify a possible government crackdown.

Protesters in the legislature also took to vandalism, writing protest slogans on the walls and destroying offices.

Others meanwhile raised their own flags at the legislature. On Twitter, users posted photos of the colonial-era Hong Kong flag and the Union Jack.

The Hong Kong government moved its annual event commemorating the end of colonial rule in the city-state indoors due to “inclement weather." This was the first time that has happened, according to the Washington Post.

The protesters who took over the complex broke off from the government-recognized march that annually draws hundreds of thousands of people. The government-sanctioned march occurs each year on July 1 to commemorate the day that the British government handed over Hong Kong to the Chinese government in 1997.