Nov. 5 (UPI) — Hundreds of protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks clashed with Hong Kong police Tuesday evening in a demonstration marking one month since the government implemented a ban on protesters wearing masks.
The anti-government demonstrators waited until about 1.5 hours before the rally to announce what the South China Morning Post described as a “flash mob” style protest. Participants donned Guy Fawkes masks in an apparent nod to Britain’s Guy Fawkes Night, an annual event commemorating the 17th century anarchist’s attempt to blow up Parliament and King James I as part of the so-called Gunpowder Plot.
Tuesday also marked one month since Hong Kong banned protesters from wearing masks to hide their identities during at-times violent demonstrations.
“The mask means the spirit will carry on forever. It will not disappear as our number decreases,” demonstrator Tom Cheung told the Post.
Demonstrators marched down Chatham Road South, some vandalizing shops considered to be pro-government, police said.
Authorities used a water cannon to disperse the demonstrators when they reached the Hong Kong Museum of History.
The protests came one day after Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Shanghai to talk about the protests sparked by the autonomous region’s planned extradition bill. Lawmakers withdrew the bill from consideration, but protests have continued for 22 weeks over general anti-government sentiment and police use of force.
Xi said that ending the violence connected with the protests was a high priority and said he had a “high degree of trust” in Lam. He said all efforts should be made to end the unrest, including “having dialogue with all sectors of the society and improving people’s livelihood.”