Hong Kong police sharply criticized anti-government protesters for besieging their headquarters but refrained from using force to disperse them, in a contrast to the violence that erupted in the city last week.
The protesters ended their overnight siege of the police headquarters building Saturday morning, leaving peacefully after a night of throwing eggs and drawing graffiti on the walls of the complex.
“Police have shown the greatest tolerance to the protesters who assembled outside PHQ, but their means of expressing views have become illegal, irrational and unreasonable,” a police statement said.
Hong Kong police were criticized for using force last week, when they sprayed tear gas and shot rubber bullets at protesters. The violence left dozens injured on both sides.
Demonstrators are demanding the full withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill and the resignation of the territory’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam.
Mostly peaceful protest
On Friday, thousands of mostly student protesters dressed in black set up roadblocks in a generally peaceful protest. The protests again forced the temporary closure of Hong Kong’s government offices over security concerns.
Friday’s demonstrators also urged Hong Kong officials to retract the description of the June 12 protest as a riot; to release all the protesters arrested and drop charges against them; and to conduct an inquiry into the use of force by police during recent protests. The government has not responded directly to these demands.
On Tuesday, Lam had offered an apology for the political crisis and unrest sparked by the proposed law.
Challenge to Xi
The Hong Kong protests pose the greatest challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he took office in 2012. The Chinese government had supported the extradition proposal and accused protest organizers of colluding with Western governments.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said President Donald Trump plans to discuss the Hong Kong issue with Xi at the upcoming Group of 20 summit in Japan, June 28-29.