Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam has denounced the territory’s «very dark night» of «extreme violence», saying the city’s Government «cannot allow rioters any more to destroy our treasured Hong Kong».
- Carrie Lam said Hong Kong had been left «half-paralysed» by Friday’s disturbances
- Protests continued on Saturday, but numbers were down
- The city’s subway network remained, while shops and malls also closed their doors
Ms Lam was speaking one day after she used emergency powers to ban protesters from wearing face masks — a move which coincided with a night of intense rioting on Friday, during which one teenage protester was shot and wounded by a police officer.
Hong Kong’s subway network, which carries some 4 million people daily, remained out of action throughout Saturday, while major malls, Chinese banks and supermarket chains announced they were closing.
As the day went on there were arrests and police mounted operations to clear masked protesters in several districts across the city, but the numbers involved were well down on the norm of the last four months.
«The radical behaviour of rioters took Hong Kong through a very dark night, leaving society today half-paralysed,» Ms Lam said in a pre-recorded message.
«The extreme violence clearly illustrated that Hong Kong’s public safety is widely endangered. That’s the concrete reason that we had to invoke emergency law yesterday to introduce the anti-mask law.
«We cannot allow rioters any more to destroy our treasured Hong Kong.»
Throughout Saturday afternoon and evening crowds gathered in masks, most of them without the helmets and body armour worn by many of Friday’s hardcore protesters.
Some gatherings were light-hearted. In the harbourside district of Tsim Sha Tsui, a masked man walked dressed in a banana costume, the word «Revolt» emblazoned on its front.
But in Sheung Shui, close to the Chinese border, AFP reporters saw groups of masked protesters smashing the windows of businesses either owned by mainland Chinese entities or thought to be supportive of Beijing.
Police officers — many of whom had their faces covered and were not wearing identification numbers — were seen tackling a young couple wearing masks in the district of Central.
The latest acts of resistance came after a night of widespread chaos on Friday, when protesters trashed dozens of subway stations, vandalised shops, set fires and blocked roads.