‘Be water’: Police swoop as Hong Kong protests shift tactics
0HONG KONG (AP) — Taking a page from ancient Chinese military philosophy, black-clad protesters in Hong Kong changed tactics and wreaked havoc by popping up in small groups in multiple locations across the city Sunday, pursued by but also often eluding police who made scores of muscular arrests.
Violence spiraled as protests stretched from Sunday afternoon into the night, with police struggling to restore order.
A savage beating after dark by a group of masked protesters left a man bleeding profusely. Police said an officer was attacked from behind with a sharp weapon earlier in the day and was left with a bleeding neck wound.
Video broadcast on Hong Kong television also showed a masked, black-clad protester dropping a riot officer with a flying high kick, followed by two other protesters who beat the officer on the ground and tried unsuccessfully to snatch his gun.
The guerrilla-like tactics sought to maximize the disruption and visibility of protests at a time when anti-government demonstrations have, as a whole, been showing signs of flagging as they stretch into a fifth month. Pressure from a government ban on the face masks worn by many protesters and extreme violence earlier this month appear to have cooled the ardor of some demonstrators and whittled down protest numbers.
Online calls for gatherings to start at 2 p.m. in dozens of malls, parks, sports grounds and other locations triggered an afternoon of mayhem and marked a shift from earlier more concentrated rallies in fewer spots.
“We’re going to be more fluid and flexible,” said Amanda Sin, 23, an office worker who joined a peaceful protest outside police headquarters in central Hong Kong. “We are interchanging different tactics.”
Roaming clumps of hardcore protesters — too numerous, elusive and fast-moving to be policed — popped up out of nowhere, vandalizing stores, blocking traffic with makeshift barricades and spraying protest graffiti, often holding up umbrellas to shield their activities from view.
Masked protesters wielding hammers wrecked a Huawei store that was apparently targeted because of the brand’s links to mainland China. On another store broken into and trashed, protesters sprayed, “We are not stealing.” The words “black heart” were sprayed in black inside a vandalized Starbucks, another frequent target of the anti-government and anti-China protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese territory since June.