The New York Times Company
HONG KONG — Anti-government demonstrators angered by the shooting of a Hong Kong demonstrator fanned out across the city Tuesday, blocking major transit arteries and staging a fiery standoff against riot police officers on the fringes of a university campus.
Protesters disrupted the morning commute and brought parts of the central business district to a standstill around lunchtime. At the gates of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, they set a giant blaze and threw gasoline bombs at police lines under a barrage of tear gas canisters.
The protests in the semiautonomous Chinese city began in June over a contentious, but since-withdrawn, extradition bill. The demonstrations have since morphed into calls for greater democracy and police accountability.
Black-clad student demonstrators have been making a concerted effort to defend their campuses against what they see as unwarranted police encroachment.
On Tuesday, protesters at the Chinese University of Hong Kong built roadblocks outside an entrance while police officers elsewhere tackled demonstrators to the ground and fired tear gas at a group gathered on a sports field.
As the clashes escalated in the evening, the university’s vice chancellor, Rocky Tuan, met with students in hopes of brokering a cease-fire between protesters and police.
“The deal is that we each need to take a step back,” he said as he urged the students not to escalate the confrontation. In response, the students shouted: “We don’t believe you!” They repeatedly interrupted him and called for the release of students who had been arrested.
Barely minutes after Tuan left the site, the police fired tear gas at protesters.
The protesters poured more fuel onto a large barricade that they had already set ablaze. They hurled gasoline bombs, set off fireworks and chanted: “Reclaim Hong Kong, a revolution of our times,” a popular protest slogan.
Officers fired a barrage of tear gas over the blockade, sending protesters scrambling. At least 30 people were being treated in a makeshift first-aid center on campus, apparently for exposure to tear gas and injuries from rubber bullets.
Even though many confrontational protesters are undergraduates, violence on the campuses of Hong Kong’s universities has been rare. The university said that classes would be canceled Wednesday for a third straight day in light of road blockages, “severe damage” to campus facilities and the “high risk of ongoing confrontation between protesters and the police.”