Police disperse Hong Kong rally with tear gas, water cannon

HONG KONG, Viola Gaskell (dpa)- A rally at Hong Kong's Victoria Park was quickly dispersed with tear gas as pro-democracy protesters ignored warnings from police to leave the unsanctioned gathering on Saturday.
Thousands of demonstrators, many black-clad and wearing facemasks, then skirted down major roads and alleyways in upscale shopping district Causeway Bay in an attempt to evade the tear gas and arrest.

Groups of frontline protesters in gas masks and goggles laid flammable objects across roads, setting them alight to delay advancing riot police. Some protesters threw eggs at the officers. 
As protesters moved towards Hong Kong Island's Central district on foot, police carried out arrests and dispersal measures. A truck scattered protesters as it blasted capsaicin, a skin and eye irritant, and blue dye laced water.
The demonstration, which was originally described as an "emergency call for aid and autonomy rally," was re-billed as an "election rally" for local races later this month, after Police Commissioner Stephen Lo forbade the event.
Despite the "election rally" guise, demonstrators still waved flags representing countries that protesters hope will aid in the preservation of Hong Kong's autonomy. One sign thanked Taiwan for its support. 
A protester named Ho, who wore a black mask despite the recent ban on facial coverings, said she came to fight for the same five demands protesters have been making for months, not to rally for the district council vote set to take place in a few weeks.
Ho said that though she will vote for a new independent candidate running in her district, she does not think her vote will ultimately matter because Chinese-ruled Hong Kong "is not a true democracy."
The protests first broke out over a now-defunct extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be extradited to China, but the movement have grown to include five demands, among them universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into police violence.
Prior to the police's dispersal of the Victoria Park rally some 40 minutes after it began, district council candidate Wong Chun Tat told dpa that he is running on a platform that solely asks "the government to fulfil the five demands of the protests."
Wong said that during the election vetting process, an electoral official asked him: "Why do you support the protests, they are destroying your home?"
High-profile activist Joshua Wong was subjected to similar questioning from officials before he was barred from running in district council elections. Wong briefly attended the rally before tear gas was dispersed. 

Saturday, November 2nd 2019
Viola Gaskell (dpa)

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