Activists have accused the police of using "excessive force" against protesters in Hong Kong. But the government has defended the violent escalation, saying it only took action "after repeated but futile warnings."
The Hong Kong government on Monday defended violent police action against protesters who had occupied parts of a working-class neighborhood hours after a mass rally.
"After repeated but futile warnings, police took actions to disperse the protesters," the government said. "During the process, some protesters resisted and police arrested five persons for assaulting a police officer and obstructing a police officer in the execution of duties."
Video showed riot police swinging batons at protesters after a tense stand-off. Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong shared a video in which a police officer appears to be telling a protester: "F***ing remember my face, let's fight one-on-one."
"Just another example of excessive force used by the police, to whom the US should not sell weapons to [Hong Kong] police," Wong wrote in a tweet.
Wong urged his followers to sign a White House petition urging the US to "suspend any export application of crowd control equipment to Hong Kong to prevent further brutality against Hong Kongers."
'Peaceful, graceful protest'
The clashes erupted hours after an estimated 230,000 protesters marched across Hong Kong to a high-speed railway terminus to reach out to mainland visitors.
"We want to show our peaceful, graceful protest to the mainland visitors because the information is rather blocked in mainland," said protest organizer Ventus Lau. "We want to show them the true image and the message of Hong Kongers."
The march was the first of its kind since protesters broke into Hong Kong's parliament and demanded the city's leader, Carrie Lam, scrap a controversial extradition bill and step down.
Read more: 'This discontent is really about China'
China wades in
In China, state media has reported few details about the protests save for the violent incident. But in an op-ed in the Global Times, an English-language publication put out by the Chinese Communist Party, Beijing's position appeared to be warning against escalations.
"With a general and common sense understanding of how justice functions, Chinese society is all too aware that a zero-tolerance policy is the only remedy for such destructive behavior witnessed," the editorial said.
"Otherwise, and without this policy, it would be similar to opening a Pandora's Box, upending social disorder."
ls/amp (AFP, AP)