Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests descended into the worst violence seen so far early Monday, as demonstrators ended more than two months of largely peaceful civil disobedience with a dramatic escalation in tactics.
Thousands of protesters clashed with police overnight at the demonstration’s main encampment near government headquarters in well-heeled Admiralty district, at one point storming into a main thoroughfare and bringing evening traffic to a sudden stop. Police in riot gear fought back with a liberal use of batons and pepper spray, hurling protesters to the ground to make arrests. At least 40 people were hospitalized in the bedlam.
The night marked a major reversal in direction for what student leaders have long maintained was a movement principled in nonviolence. Student groups, who bristle at the Chinese government’s insistence on vetting candidates for Hong Kong’s top political leader, have urged protesters to show their readiness for the right to free…
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