Protesters Gather for Rallies in 18 Districts: Hong Kong Update

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Protesters Gather for Rallies in 18 Districts: Hong Kong Update(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong protesters gathered on Sunday for rallies in 18 districts, with police fanning out across the city on the 19th weekend of violent unrest.The protests follow a night of sporadic violence and come as some demonstrators debate online on whether to soften their tactics to avoid alienating more moderate supporters. Saturday’s march was called in protest against the government invoking emergency laws, including banning masks at public gatherings.The unrest erupted on June 9 in opposition to Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s now-withdrawn legislation that would’ve allowed extraditions to mainland China have since expanded into a push for greater democracy. Last week, tens of thousands of people flooded Hong Kong’s streets after Lam banned protesters from wearing masks in her latest effort to rein in the unrest.Here’s the latest (all times local):Police confront protesters (3 p.m.)Riot police confronted black-clad protesters trying to barricade a road in Mong Kong, while demonstrators blocked a road in Tuen Mun and littered train tracks with rubbish in Shatin. Activists planned 18 district “blossom” events Sunday, with pop-up protests territory-wide.Restaurants closed (Sunday 9 a.m.)Protests have take their toll on Hong Kong’s restaurant industry, with about 100 restaurants having to shut down because of the months-long unrest in the city, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in a blog post Sunday.Around 2,000 employees have been affected as a result of the closures, Chan said in the Chinese-language post, citing the catering industry. He didn’t provide further details. Some retailers have also had to reduce the number of stores or cut back on staff, and several recent local events have had to be canceled for security reasons, Chan said.Lady Liberty (8 a.m.)A group of people assembled a makeshift statue of Lady Liberty overnight on top of the city’s iconic Lion Rock mountain in Kowloon. The three-meter (about 9.5 feet) figure wearing the protesters’ familiar helmet, goggles and masks, was originally created to represent a woman who was wearing a helmeted and masked figure ,Police disperse crowd (10:30 p.m.)Police dispersed a crowd of people outside Mong Kok police station who had surrounded the building, thrown rocks at it and aimed lasers at officers. “Minimum force” was used to clear the crowd after several warnings for them to leave the area, according to a police statement.Offices set on fire (5 p.m.)A group of people set fire to the government offices in Cheung Sha Wan after breaking the security gate and entering the building, police said in a statement. Earlier, protesters gathered in Sham Shui Po, Prince Edward and Mong Kok. Railings were removed from roads, traffic was paralyzed in the area and some shops were vandalized, according to police.Officers issued a warning for people to leave the area immediately and said they would soon begin to disperse the crowds.Anti-emergency law march (3 pm.)Scattered bands of masked demonstrators marched from Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon to Sham Shui Po in protest against the decision by Lam to invoke an emergency law for the first time in more than half a century to ban face masks at public gatherings. Police stood by watchfully as the largely peaceful procession passed.Earlier police reported petrol bombs were thrown inside the Kowloon Tong train station, causing serious damage. No one was injured, they said.Wong disappointed by Apple (2 p.m.)Prominent activist Joshua Wong said in a letter to Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook that he was “deeply disappointed with Apple’s decision to ban” an app that was used by “lots” of Hong Kong people, according to a tweet by Wong reproduced part of his letter.He said he believed Apple was informed by Hong Kong police that the app was “being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present.”Apple CEO Defends Pulling Hong Kong App, Echoing Police ViewWong said “we use the real-time info from HKmap not with the intention to inflict personal harm on anyone but to protect ourselves from harm.”Police reshuffle (7:30 a.m.)Hong Kong police will appoint Frank Kwok, formerly with the elite special duties unit known as the Flying Tigers, as operations chief in a bid to better handle the protests, the South China Morning Post reported, citing an unidentified senior police official.Kwok will soon swap posts with Assistant Police Commissioner Terence Mak, who is currently in charge of operations, the newspaper reported. Kwok is New Territories North regional commander. Mak was originally being groomed as a future police chief, the Post reported. Commissioner Stephen Lo is expected to retire in a month and a successor has not yet been named. His departure was announced about a year ago.Rent cuts (Saturday 6 a.m.)MTR Corp., the city’s railway operator, Airport Authority Hong Kong and some property developers have offered to reduce rents to retailers affected by protests, the South China Morning Post reported, citing Financial Secretary Paul Chan.Chan has also appealed to private landlords to follow suit, the report said. Hysan Development Co. and Swire Properties Ltd. have confirmed rent cuts so far, the paper said, without saying where it got the information.Mask ban arrests climb to 90 (4:55 p.m.)Hong Kong police said they had arrested a total of 90 people as of Wednesday on suspicion of violating the mask ban. That’s up from 77 a day earlier.Lam’s decision to implement the ban under a colonial-era emergency ordinance that hadn’t been invoked in more than half a century sparked a destructive series of protests. The measure carries a possible sentence of as long as one year in jail.Police to probe assault claims (3:12 p.m.)Hong Kong police pledged to investigate a protester’s allegation that she was sexually assaulted by officers, after she dramatically shared her story at a university event.The woman, Sonia Ng, said she was assaulted in a dark body-search room at a detention center near the mainland Chinese border on Aug. 31 and wasn’t the only one who “suffered sexual violence.” Ng removed the face mask she was wearing in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 people and challenged university administrators present to take a stand against police violence.To contact the reporters on this story: Cathy Chan in Hong Kong at kchan14@bloomberg.net;Aaron Mc Nicholas in Hong Kong at amcnicholas2@bloomberg.net;Alfred Liu in Hong Kong at aliu226@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Stanley JamesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.