Police tightened the siege on Monday as hundreds of protesters sought to escape, as night fell in Hong Kong.
Protesters advanced on the police officials from outside the cordon, while others emerged at the campus. Police in some places swooped in to suppress protesters and make arrests.
It wasn’t clear if any of the protesters inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University escaped.
The workweek of Hong Kong began with protests that disrupted traffic, and schools remained closed due to safety concerns. There was a temporary hiatus in the pitched battles for control of the Polytechnic campus because the emphasis shifted from the battling protesters with water cannons and tear gas to waiting for them to come out.
For days, protesters have fortified the campus from the police. They were trying to escape.
The give-and-take has played out frequently during the city’s weeks of unrest. The protesters need to avoid arrest. The police want to pick up all of them.
“Other than coming out to surrender, I really don’t see, at the moment, there is any other option for them,” he said.
Cheuk said police have the capability and resolve to end the standoff peacefully. Therefore, protesters should not “try their fortune.”
Protesters won on the legal side when a mask ban imposed by the government last month was struck down by the high court. The court said it did not consider anti-mask laws unconstitutional generally, but in this case, the law infringed on fundamental rights further.
Protesters wear masks to protect their identities out of surveillance cameras that may be used to detain and prosecute them. The ban has been widely ignored, and police officials have charged the protesters for wearing masks.
The protests started in early June, sparked by proposed laws that could have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to the mainland. But by the time the protests had hardened and broadened into a resistance movement against the city’s government and Beijing.
Activists see the extradition bill as an example of the eroding autonomy under Beijing’s rule since the 1997 handover from colonial power Britain of Hong Kong.
A nationalistic head of a newspaper said Hong Kong police might use snipers to fire live ammunition on violent protesters.
“If the rioters are killed, the authorities should not have to bear legal obligation,” Global Times editor Hu Xijin wrote on his Weibo social networking account.
Since the last week, anti-government protesters barricaded themselves inside Polytechnic. On Sunday, police surrounded the university and started moving in after issuing an ultimatum for people to leave that area. The audience wore raincoats and carried umbrellas to prevent from police water cannons.
Officers broke in one entry before sunrise as fires raged inside and outside the school, but they didn’t appear to get very far. Explosions happened as protesters responded with gasoline bombs. Police, who have cautioned that everybody in the area will be charged with rioting, reportedly made some arrests.
At daybreak, protesters stayed in control of most of the campus. In one area, gasoline bombs were made by a few protesters while wearing gas masks. While many stared at their smartphones, two walked about with crossbows and quivers of arrows.
“We’re desperate because our supplies are running low,” said a protester who gave only his first name, Matthew. “We’re exhausted because we had been up since 5 a.m. yesterday.”
A cessation settled on the area as the president of this university said in a video message which authorities have agreed to suspend their use of force.
Jin-Guang Teng said police would let protesters to leave and he would accompany them to the police station to make sure their cases could be processed fairly.
“I hope that you will accept the suggested temporary suspension of force and peacefully depart the campus,” he said.
It appeared unlikely the protesters would accept the offer, given that they would likely be arrested.
A few hundred streamed from this campus about 8:15 a.m. in a clear bid to escape, but they had been pushed back by police tear gas. Some wearing gas masks peacefully picked up smoking gas canisters and chucked them in heavy-duty bags; however, the protesters decided to retreat with a phalanx of officers lined up across the road in the space.
Police have set up a dragnet across the campus to try to capture protesters, who generally attempt to melt away by obstructing traffic and other disruption before authorities run into grab as many as possible.
Other protesters blocked a street not far from the Polytechnic campus to distract police and assist those inside the campus retreat.
As police chased them with tear gas, they threw paving stones on the police.
An injured woman arrested for participating in an illegal assembly at a Nathan Road junction escaped after protesters ceased her ambulance with rocks and bricks.
One police officer fired three warning shots, a post on the police Facebook page stated.
Police issued a “wanted” notice for the 20-year-old woman and said anybody who aided her might be charged with assisting an offender, that can be punished by up to a decade in prison.
The road closure added to transportation woes with train stations still closed due to damage by protesters plus a section of a single line closed completely near Polytechnic.