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The throngs, wearing black shirts and masks, waved American flags, carried posters that read, “President Trump, please liberate Hong Kong” as they marched to the US Consulate under the watchful eyes of riot police.
“Hong Kong is at the forefront of the battle against the totalitarian regime of China,” Panzer Chan, one of the organizers of the march, told the Associated Press. “Please support us in our fight.”
Hong Kong has been rocked by three months of unrest sparked by a proposed law that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial. Many saw the extradition bill as a glaring example of the erosion of civil liberties and rights promised under a “one country, two systems” framework when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper counseled Beijing to use “restraint” in its dealing with Hong Kong, a British colony that was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
“We would obviously urge restraint and not to act, and to sit down and talk with the protesters and resolve the differences,” Esper said at a press conference in Paris on Saturday.
Protesters on Sunday urged Washington to pass a bill, known as the Hong Kong Democratic and Human Rights Act, to support their cause. The bill proposes sanctions against Hong Kong and Chinese officials found to suppress democracy and human rights in the city, and could also affect Hong Kong’s preferential trade status with the U.S.
Demonstrators Sunday chanted "Five demands! Not one less!" in reference to their platform, which calls for steps such as an investigation into police actions during the demonstrations, amnesty for arrested protesters and direct elections to choose the city's politicians.
The weekend also saw continued outbreaks of violence as protesters and riot police squared off on improvised battlegrounds all throughout the city.
The Sunday protests began peacefully but later turned violent when police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds that converged on the city’s Central District, where banks, jewelry stores and high-end clothing shops are located.
The demonstrators smashed windows, vandalized a subway station, ignited fires in the street and put up barricades.