(Bloomberg) — Thousands of protesters converged on Hong Kong’s legislature Wednesday — blocking roads in tactics similar to 2014 Occupy demonstrations — as lawmakers began days of debate expected to result in the passage of legislation that would for the first time allow extraditions to China.
While Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam argues the bill is necessary to close a legal loophole that makes the city a refuge to criminals, opponents say its approval would blow up the legal wall intended to keep the former British colony’s justice system separate from China’s. Wednesday’s protests follow one of the largest demonstrations since the handover: Organizers said more than million turned out, while police put the number at 240,000.
Here are the latest developments (all times local):
Blocking Major Roads (9:40 a.m.)
Demonstrators blocked Harcourt Road-Gloucester Road, a major central thoroughfare in and out of the city’s business district, and another road outside the Legislative Council building, according to local news footage. A number of passing vehicles got struck on the road as protesters put up their barriers.
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Protesters also raised barricades on Lung Wo Road, near the Legislative Council building, echoing a tactic used in 2014 as part of the Occupy demonstrations for democratic reforms. Many held up umbrellas in the light ran in a standoff with police, like the demonstrators’ use of umbrellas in 2014 to shield protect themselves from pepper spray, causing some to call it the Umbrella Movement.
Crowds swelled to thousands, with many wearing face masks and helmets facing off against with scores of police officers clad in riot gear. At Hong Kong Station near the council building, police cleared a row of demonstrators staging a sit-in to block a main walkway.
Call for Student Strikes (7:40 a.m.)
Pro-democracy activist group Demosisto, which played a key role in organizing demonstrators during the city’s 2014 Occupy movement, asks Hong Kong high school students to strike today. The group says it will gather people at central Statue Square at 10.45 a.m., before heading to Tamar Park.
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