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Hong Kong Police Fire Tear Gas as Protesters Return in Force

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Hong Kong Police Fire Tear Gas as Protesters Return in Force

HONG KONG – After a relative pause in the protests, thousands of pro-democracy activists turned up on Sunday for three demonstrations a week after marking a major election victory that was seen as a broad endorsement of the movement's goals.

The vote last Sunday saw pro-democracy candidates win 87% of seats in local district council races. The councils have little political power, but the vote – a rare form of popular election in the semi-autonomous city – was portrayed as reflecting widespread discontent with the government and backing the protesters' goals.

All demonstrations on Sunday received "letters of no objection", unlike many recent protests that were banned by police. Activists denounced such bans as unnecessary restrictions on freedom of assembly. While the first two protests were peaceful, there were later several tense clashes between protesters and the police.

Hong Kong protests began in June over legislation, if discarded, that would allow extraditions to mainland China. The movement soon expanded to include a wide range of demands for police accountability and greater democracy.

On Sunday, thousands of protesters, many dressed in black and wearing masks, descended to the Tsim Sha Tsui port district, chanting slogans like "Five demands, not one less!" And "Hong Kongers, take revenge!"

After the Beijing-backed settlement camp suffered a blow in last Sunday's elections, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam finally said the government was considering setting up a committee to look into the crisis. The move failed to meet protesters' main demand for an independent commission to examine how police handled the protests.

"Never forget why you started," read a large black-and-white banner at the march. Shortly after the start, police fired pepper spray and later blew gas at some of the protesters after warning them that they had deviated from the approved route.

Clashes continued into the night, with police firing rubber bullets and more tear gas as protesters vandalized shops that seemed friendly to Beijing.

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