Hong Kong's ongoing protests against a controversial extradition bill have turned violent, with local police declaring them as riots.
According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the declaration was made by the Hong Kong police commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung, in response to protesters who reportedly attempted to barge through police lines.
The announcement was made on the afternoon of June 12, hours after it was announced that a meeting for the second reading of the bill had been postponed indefinitely.
Protesters attempted to storm the Legislative Council
Both SCMP and Al Jazeera reported that tensions escalated between local police and protesters when hundreds attempted to storm Hong Kong's Legislative Council building at about 3:30pm Wednesday.
This resulted in the police retaliating by shooting tear gas, smoke bombs and rubber bullets at protesters, according to reports and videos posted to Twitter:
Police in #HongKong are using rubber bullets and tear gas against protesters.— Jhanisse Vaca Daza (@JhanisseVDaza) June 12, 2019
We urge HK Govt CE Carrie Lam & secretary of security Jack Lee to NOT use excessive police force against #ExtraditionLaw protesters@hkjohnsonyeung @hoccgoomusic pic.twitter.com/iGqyJPFa4K
Protesters have barged into the Legislative Council, and riot police have responded by firing with tear gas and smoke bombs inside the building.— Rachel Yeo (@racporter) June 12, 2019
Some legislative council members are providing tissues and water for protestors stung by tear gas #extraditionbill #extradition pic.twitter.com/IN3SDhwsEe
Full on day outside Hong Kong's Legislative Council, with police firing tear gas, rubber bullets and beanbag rounds at protestors: pic.twitter.com/9iwQf9C0e3— Sean Gleeson (@seanjgleeson) June 12, 2019
Clashes also broke out in the immediate vicinity of the building, with protesters reportedly rushing over the barricades at Lung Wo Road and Tim Wa Avenue.
Despite being also reportedly pepper-sprayed, the protesters were successful in forcing the special tactical forces that met them to retreat into the Legislative Council, thanks to their larger numbers.
Videos of riots spread on social media
Meanwhile, videos of the riots have spread on social media, showing both police and protesters engaged in acts of aggression on both sides.
Multiple media outlets showed videos of protestors hurling projectiles at the police.
Protesters in Hong Kong throw umbrellas, plastic bottles and other projectiles at riot police as they attempt to come down stairs to disperse the crowd. Follow live updates here: https://t.co/wSf7pJ9Kd6 pic.twitter.com/ZLfoPa4b55— CNN International (@cnni) June 12, 2019
Police equipped with riot shields pushed back against protesters attempting to storm past barricades to get into Hong Kong government headquarters.— ABC News (@ABC) June 12, 2019
Demonstrators used umbrellas to fend off tear gas and high-pressure water deployed by authorities. https://t.co/ccGi3si7lA pic.twitter.com/XXLfbs7nLT
Videos of protesters getting injured have of course also been spread.
One video on the Facebook page of the University of Hong Kong showed an alleged protester being forced to the ground by multiple policemen in riot gear.
Be warned, this video might be disturbing to some:In case you can't see it (but still want to):
[video width="1280" height="720" mp4="https://static.mothership.sg/1/2019/06/10000000_457672824804775_4552664790429163847_n.mp4"][/video]
Another video taken of a TVB clip by Hong Kong media site 100 Mao showed a protester purportedly being shot in the face while moving a barricade.In case you can't see the video:
[video width="320" height="560" mp4="https://static.mothership.sg/1/2019/06/64726844_633284507176948_1248496011174504246_n.mp4"][/video]
Separately, Hong Kong media Apple Daily also put up a video of a man who appears to be just sitting to one side being pepper-sprayed by police:
[video width="640" height="352" mp4="https://static.mothership.sg/1/2019/06/64672950_411006816153417_4223133366702366688_n.mp4"][/video]
Not the first time the police have dealt with protesters forcefully
This is not the first time that the Hong Kong police have pulled out the stops in dealing with protesters.
In 2017, SCMP reported that eight policemen were convicted of beating and kicking an activist during the Occupy Central protests in 2014, with seven of them receiving a jail sentence of two years.
The beatings had sparked outrage which, combined with the disappearances of several Hong Kong booksellers in 2016, and a Chinese billionaire who was based in the city in 2017, gave rise to a negative perception of the Hong Kong police force, SCMP highlighted.
Carrie Lam breaks down on TV
Meanwhile, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam was seen breaking down on television.
At about 6pm Wednesday, Hong Kong media HK01 uploaded a close to four-minute video of an interview Lam gave to TVB.
Around the three-minute mark, Lam responded to accusations that she had betrayed Hong Kong, saying that she could not have done so.
It is at this point that she turns emotional, saying she had grown up with Hongkongers and that her love for the place had driven her to make many personal sacrifices.
Lam then shared that her husband had allegedly also asked how she could have possibly betrayed Hong Kong, when she had "sold her body to Hong Kong" by becoming its Chief Executive.
More stories on the Hong Kong protests:
Top image screenshot from Rachel Yeo Twitter