Renewed Hong Kong Protests Turn Violent As Demonstrators Try To Smash Into Legislature

Combative protesters were trying to break into the Hong Kong legislature building Monday as a crowd of thousands prepared to start a march in that direction.

With 100 or more people around them, a group of eight to 10 people repeatedly rammed a glass panel door, wedging a cargo cart into a damaged panel of safety glass. Windows were smashed.

CBS News' Chris Laible, at the scene, reported the demonstrators, mostly young people, were erecting barricades at certain parts of the building where they thought police would come out of. They were grabbing any kind of metal object they could find to try to block doors and gates and were using umbrellas to block vision or openings where they thought police could see out of.

Anti-government protesters trying to ram their way into Hong Kong's parliament building battled police armed with pepper spray. (Image: Reuters)
Protesters smashed windows and were trying to force their way into the building by ramming a metal cart through the glass doors. (Image: Getty)
The sign reads "Don't back down until complete withdrawal." (Image: Getty)

The unexpected disruption stalled the start of the march. The crowd started filing out of Victoria Park but police asked the marchers to change their route or cancel the march.

Both the combative protesters and the marchers are opposing a government attempt to change extradition laws to allow suspects to be sent to China to face trial. The proposal has increased fears of eroding freedoms in the territory that was returned to China in 1997.

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Earlier, protesters demanding Hong Kong's embattled leader step down clashed with police outside a flag-raising ceremony marking the 22nd anniversary of the former British colony's return to China. The city leader, Carrie Lam, pledged to be more responsive to public sentiment.

Police used riot shields and pepper spray to push back hundreds of helmeted protesters who tried to advance down closed streets toward the harbourfront ceremony venue, where the Chinese and Hong Kong flags were raised together and two helicopters and a small flotilla passed by.

Protesters armed with shields and wearing gas masks clashed with police outside Hong Kong's legislative building. (Image: Getty)
Thousands of anti-government protesters faced off with riot police in the renewed demonstrations. (Image: Getty)
Officers used batons and pepper spray to disperse anti-extradition protesters. (Image: Getty)
Police used riot gear to disperse protesters in the heated standoff. (Image: Getty)

At the ceremony, city leader Carrie Lam said a series of protests and marches that have attracted hundreds of thousands of students and other participants in recent weeks have taught her that she needs to listen better to the youth and people in general. Lam has come under withering criticism for trying to push through the legislation.

"This has made me fully realize that I, as a politician, have to remind myself all the time of the need to grasp public sentiments accurately," she said in a five-minute speech to the gathering in the city's cavernous convention center.

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She insisted her government has good intentions but said she "will learn the lesson and ensure that the government's future work will be closer and more responsive to the aspirations, sentiments and opinions of the community."

Security guards pushed pro-democracy lawmaker Helena Wong out of the room as she walked backward shouting at Lam to resign and withdraw the "evil" legislation. She later told reporters she was voicing the grievances and opinions of the protesters, who could not get into the event.

Lawmaker Helena Wong is escorted out by security. (Image: Getty)

The annual march starting in the afternoon was expected to be larger than usual because the proposed extradition bill. Two marches in June against the legislation drew more than a million people, according to organiser estimates.

The government has suspended debate on the bill indefinitely, but protest leaders want it formally withdrawn and Lam's resignation. They also are demanding an independent inquiry into police actions during a June 12 protest, when officers used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters who blocked the legislature on the day debate on the bill had been scheduled to resume.

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The police say the use of force was justified, but have since adopted softer tactics, even as protesters besieged police headquarters in recent days, pelting it with eggs and spray-painting slogans on its outer walls.