In a fearsome escalation of violence, Hong Kong police shot a protester at close range in the chest Tuesday, leaving the teenager bleeding and howling on the ground.
Tens of thousands joined anti-government demonstrations that spread across the semi-autonomous Chinese territory even as Communist leaders in Beijing celebrated 70 years in power.
The single pistol shot fired by the officer as protesters swarmed toward him hit the 18-year-old on the left side of his chest, police spokeswoman Yolanda Yu said. She described the protesters as "rioters" and said the officer had feared for his life. Hong Kong's hospital authority said the teen was one of two people in critical condition, with a total of 51 people injured as fierce clashes between protesters and police wracked China's freest and most international city.
While officers have previously fired warning shots in the air on multiple occasions during months of demonstrations in Hong Kong, this was the first time a protester is known to have been shot. There were other instances Tuesday when officers also drew their weapons, including two with bloodied faces who pointed pistols, as protesters determined to spoil the Oct. 1 anniversary of Communist rule fought pitched battles with riot police. The shooting marked a dramatic escalation in violence that spread chaos to multiple areas. Widespread fighting and destruction prompted an ominous warning Tuesday evening from Hong Kong's embattled police force, now widely decried for heavy-handed tactics, that rioters posed "a serious threat to public peace and order." Protesters used power tools to fashion bricks into missiles and came armed with gas bombs.
Today on AirTalk, we’ll hear the latest on the clashes between protesters and police, and what it means amid the backdrop of the 70th anniversary of Communist rule in China.
With files from the Associated Press
With guest host Libby Denkmann.
Victoria Tin-bor Hui, associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame specializing in Hong Kong politics; she is a native Hong Konger