A taxi driver reportedly rammed his vehicle into a crowd of protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday, alarming the protesters and triggering a violent response.
During the latest anti-China demonstrations on Sunday, videos circulating on social media showed a taxi van driving onto the pedestrian walkway outside the Cheung Sha Wan government offices. According to a report from the Hong Kong Free Press, the vehicle smashed into a storefront and injured at least one woman.
— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) October 7, 2019
Following the crash, large crowds of protesters surrounded and attacked the taxi driver. Other protesters then shielded the driver from further beatings. Details of his condition remain unclear, although he was seen bleeding profusely from his head. Firefighters stepped in to give first aid to both the driver and the woman; the man was later taken to hospital for his injuries.
— Nine News Queensland (@9NewsQueensland) October 6, 2019
The vehicle was later found heavily vandalized, with its windows broken, license plate spray-painted, and the man’s possessions scattered on the ground.
Sunday’s protests were called in response to Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam’s decision to ban face masks across the city, citing British colonial law. The ban applies to both “illegal” and police-approved demonstrations and carries penalties ranging from a fine to up to a year in jail. Nearly all of the demonstrators wore masks in defiance of the ban, making it effectively impossible for police to regulate.
“(Hong Kong leader) Carrie Lam is not the god of Hong Kong. She can’t do anything she likes,” retiree Patricia Anyeung told ABC Australia as she marched with her mask on. “They can’t arrest us all. There are thousands of us. There is no going back — we are at the point of no return.”
The protests took place throughout the weekend despite bad weather, roadblocks, and the closure of public transport.
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) October 6, 2019
Local police also confirmed that police shot a 14-year-old boy protesting, the second victim of live gunfire at the hands of police since the protests began. As of Monday afternoon, the boy was reportedly in a stable condition having suffered a gunshot wound to the leg.
Hong Kong has been subject to widespread political and civil unrest since early June when pro-democracy activists began taking to the streets to oppose an extradition bill that would have permitted criminal suspects to be sent to China for trial.
▶️Protesters remained on the streets of Hong Kong as night fell, Saturday, October 5, despite an increased police presence.
👉Hong Kong Lawmakers Seek to Block Mask Ban; Protests Persisthttps://t.co/QAyLtHVf9p pic.twitter.com/Zkhg4mbef1
— The Voice of America (@VOANews) October 6, 2019
Hong Kong’s government has since scrapped the bill. Wider demonstrations continue to demand an investigation into police brutality, freedom for political prisoners, and the direct election of lawmakers.
The movement is part of an intense pushback against Beijing’s increasing interference in the city’s internal affairs, undermining the principle of “one country, two systems” that was signed following the handover from the British Empire in 1997.