Hong Kong, Sept. 28 (CNA) Hong Kong police fired tear gas into crowds of protesters Sunday as they sought to disperse the pro-democracy activists gathered outside Hong Kong's government headquarters since the night before.
Authorities proceeded to clear the large crowd at 6 p.m. following hours of standoff between the two camps. The tear gas sent protesters fleeing.
Thousands of people had converged on government headquarters to call for democratic reforms after university students began a boycott of classes Monday to protest Beijing's decree restricting potential candidates in Hong Kong's 2017 chief executive election.
Police said 78 protesters have been arrested since Sept. 26, when over 100 people broke through the gates of Hong Kong's government complex.
At around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, leaders of the Occupy Central civil disobedience campaign announced they were joining the students, bringing even more Hongkongers to the roads around the central government offices near Central.
Chan Kin-man, an associate sociology professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and one of the organizers of the Occupy Central movement, told CNA earlier Sunday that his campaign launched its protest earlier than expected in order to maintain the momentum and determination of the citizens already demonstrating.
Among the protesters is Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai, who said that while Occupy Central may not succeed in bringing universal suffrage to Hong Kong, making a stand is their way of showing accountability to history.
Clashes broke out between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., when police used pepper stray on demonstrators who attempted to break police cordons.
Law enforcement raised a red warning flag at around 4 p.m. before dousing demonstrators again with pepper spray, heightening tensions between the two sides.
At 5:30 p.m., police threatened to use "more powerful force" against protesters unless they vacated the site.
(By Stanley Cheung and Christie Chen)ENDITEM/WH
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