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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Protests in Hong Kong: Protesters block debate board on extradition bill

Protests in Hong Kong: Protesters block debate board on extradition bill
Police used pepper spray and water cannons against protesters, as tens of thousands of protesters surrounded the city's Legislative Council.

Protesters prevent lawmakers from resuming debate on the extradition bill.

The head of the Hong Kong Legislative Council delayed the debate on a bill that would allow extradition to mainland China after tens of thousands of residents surrounded the Council compound in a defiant protest against contentious legislation.

"The president of the Legislative Council has ordered that the council meeting scheduled for June 12 from 11 a.m. today be changed to a later date that will determine him," the council said in a statement. "Members will be notified of the time of the meeting later."

Regina Ip, a pro-Beijing legislator, and former cabinet minister, and her team could not enter the council building because protesters had blocked neighboring roads, said Emma Li, spokeswoman for Ms. Ip's People's Party.

Police said some protesters were digging bricks near the legislative complex. "The police warn protesters not to throw bricks because it could cause serious injuries to other people, including death, and it is strictly illegal," he said in a tweet.

The police drove the crowds back with pepper spray and water cannons.

Tens of thousands of young protesters demonstrating on a multi-lane road outside the Legislative Council erupted in the chants of "Chit Wui!" The phrase means "Retract it!" invoice to withdraw.

While the crowd of protesters swelled, the police tried to push them with water cannons and pepper spray. Some in the crowd displayed the umbrellas of the convenience stores. Others seized traffic signs and threw them to the ground with a crash.

A debate was scheduled on the bill at 11 a.m. but it was delayed. Local media reported that the delay was due to lawmakers being prevented from entering the building as a result of the protests.

Later, the government said that all entrances to its headquarters had been closed as a result of roadblocks and told employees that they were not yet in the buildings that were kept away.

Some protesters in the crowd said in interviews that they had little hope of forcing the government to back down on the extradition bill. But others, like Grace Tsang, were more optimistic.

Ms. Tsang, 25, said she had come hoping to draw international attention to the bill, and said she hoped the global condemnation could compel the government to give up presenting the project for a second reading in the local legislature.

"Hong Kong is a civilized city, but they do not listen to citizens," said Ms. Tsang, who wore sunglasses and a surgical mask to protect herself against pepper spray, on the authorities. "It's pretty ridiculous."

"We need all the people of the world to support us because sometimes we do not have hope," he added.

The city's police force said some protesters surrounded police and private cars in a tunnel and "threatened the lives of those who have been surrounded."

"This behavior has gone beyond the scope of a peaceful meeting," the statement says. "We call on those around the vehicles to leave as soon as possible, otherwise we will use the right force."

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Protesters build barricades to block roads.

Dragging heavy metal barriers, thousands of protesters threw themselves onto the roads surrounding the Hong Kong legislature on Wednesday morning to block access to the building, in the latest demonstration against a controversial bill that would allow extradition to mainland China.

Protesters, many of them young men in black T-shirts and surgical masks, placed the barriers on a wide road outside the Legislative Council, like the sound of metal scraping the asphalt through a canyon of skyscrapers. Hundreds of riot police, with full-face shields and canes, observed.

Small businesses, including restaurants and bookstores, closed their doors; high school students and up to 4,000 of their teachers left their classes, and a bus drivers union urged members to drive well below