July 1 saw the protests in Hong Kong reach new heights of tension after hundreds of protesters entered the Legislative Council (LegCo) building in the evening.
The charged scenes were in stark contrast from those from the largely peaceful July 1 march, which saw a turnout of about 550,000, according to Hong Kong News.
Organisers said they re-routed the march to avoid the government complex near Admiralty, where other crowds were facing off with the police.
The date of the protest was significant as it marked the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China.
Breaching the gate
Riot police had surrounded the LegCo building, but that did not appear to deter protesters.
Clashes broke out between the two sides, with the police using pepper spray and the protesters using a metal cart and steel poles to break through a glass panel, according to the Straits Times.
Protesters then entered the LegCo building after "breaching a gate", according to the Hong Kong Free Press.
JUST IN: Protesters have breached a gate within the legislative complex. People are now streaming into the building.— Hong Kong Free Press HKFP (@hkfp) July 1, 2019
👉 Story: https://t.co/qOJSVf6Q6d
👉 In full: https://t.co/kmLJLFCnSX#antiELAB #hongkong #HK pic.twitter.com/olSFJ86cG8
They then entered the main debate chamber, chanting slogans and hoisting signs.
22:10 Protesters who occupied #HK #Legco complex chanting "complete withdrawal of #ExtraditionLaw" & "release rioting suspects". And also, maybe more significantly - "people reseize the parliament, universal suffrage now!" - this is actually the crux of the whole crisis. #FreeHK pic.twitter.com/j5eDiLaxJr— Phoebe Kong (@phoebe_kongwy) July 1, 2019
They also spray-painted several messages on the wooden wall, including:
- Release the protester arrested earlier
- Carrie Lam resign
- Cancel functional constituency
- Sunflower Hong Kong
Another video showed a protester tearing up a copy of Hong Kong's Basic Law at the LegCo President's seat, with the British colonial flag of Hong Kong draped over the desk.
21:45 #Breaking - protesters occupy the whole #HK #Legco complex. There's simply NO police here at all. Pictures showing some of them tearing up #BasicLaw at the president seat inside the chamber, chanting #antiextraditionlaw slogans. #HongKongProtest pic.twitter.com/bEdOR6mQqj— Phoebe Kong (@phoebe_kongwy) July 1, 2019
Services suspended indefinitely
At around 6:30 pm, the LegCo Secretariat issued a "Red alert", urging everyone in the building to leave immediately.
Another update, issued at around 10:30 pm, announced that all public services and guided tours in the building would be suspended indefinitely.
Hong Kong police: LegCo Building "violently attacked"
On July night, the Hong Kong police declared that the building was "violently attacked" and "severely condemned" the breach in a public statement on Twitter.
The LegCo Building was violently attacked and forced to enter illegally. The police severely condemned the violent attack. The police will conduct sweeping in a short period of time and will take reasonable force.The police also appeal unrelated protestors to leave the vicinity. pic.twitter.com/0YPsExD3FM— Hong Kong Police Force (@hkpoliceforce) July 1, 2019
The police said that it would "conduct sweeping in a short period of time and will take reasonable force".
The police also appealed to unrelated protestors to leave the vicinity.
Violence denounced by legislators
Hong Kong News reported that 42 members of the LegCo, who it described as being "pro-Beijing", gave a public statement in which they denounced the "extremely radical" violence.
They also expressed support for the police officers for their "professionalism" in sticking to their posts and for safeguarding public order.
Top image via @phoebe_kongwy on Twitter.