Hong Kong protesters ransack mall, clash in street battles with police (VIDEOS)

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Thousands of masked protesters descended on a Hong Kong satellite town, vandalizing a mall and rail stations. Clashes with police ensued in nearby streets where police used tear gas and activists set barricades on fire.

The action in Sha Tin, a neighborhood in Hong Kong’s New Territories, on Sunday followed the template set on the previous day in Tuen Mun, another satellite town. Most of the heat was in the streets, where the activists, who have been waging a 16-week-long campaign against the government in Beijing, erected barricades and set them on fire. Hong Kong police responded with force, deploying tear gas and dispersing the crowds.

However, the focus of the protest was in Sha Tin’s New Town Plaza, a shopping mall, which was occupied by thousands of protesters on Sunday.

Some of their actions were peaceful. They chanted anti-government slogans, played protest songs, and built an art object from paper cranes with a politically loaded name.

Others were clear attempts to intimidate business owners they see as allied with the central government in Beijing.

Protesters also expressed their disdain for China by targeting the national flag in a sort of merry-go-round game. The flag was snatched earlier from the Shia Tin town hall.

There was also vandalism, as the more radical activists smashed CCTV cameras, painted anti-government graffiti, and tore down metal barriers and wall panels they wanted to take out and use for barricades.

Suffice it to say, when the demonstration was over, plenty of work was left behind for janitors.

Another Sha Tin mall, the luxurious Elements, saw a smaller invasion later on Sunday. In addition, three stations of the Hong Kong light rail system in the neighborhood were vandalized, while trains had to be stopped on one of the two lines passing through Sha Tin after demonstrators reportedly put an emergency ramp on the railway.

The protesters see the operator of the transit system, MTP Corporation, as collaborating with Beijing.

The protests in Hong Kong, a former British colony, erupted over a draft extradition bill, which the protesters saw as an infringement on the “one country, two systems” arrangement that gives the city extensive autonomy under Chinese sovereignty. The bill has since been scrapped, but it did little to satisfy the protesters, who came up with more demands and called on the former colonial ruler, as well as the US, to intervene on their behalf.

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