Hong Kong faced its grimmest crisis since it was returned to the Chinese Communist party’s control in 1997, on Monday July 29.

The former British colony endured three consecutive days of mass protests that culminated in violence and chaos, following face-offs with riot police.

Sunday, July 28 Rally

Tens of thousands of pro-democracy activists, dressed in black, wearing hardhats, and armed with umbrellas gathered Sunday in a park in central Hong Kong for another rally.

The activists called for an independent investigation into police brutality and alleged collusion with gangsters on July 21’s attacks on Hong Kong commuters.

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Due to the sheer numbers, demonstrators inevitably dispersed across the city by early Sunday evening. This happened despite police’s orders to contain the rally to the park.

The protesters streamed throughout the central district of Hong Kong, occupying and obstructing main roads. Some set up barriers, blocking a major street near the Chinese regime’s representative office and chanted, “Reclaim Hong Kong!”

Sit-in, Marches, and Rallies

This summer, the former British colony experienced a series of pro-democracy rallies and marches, with recent activities culminating in face-offs between police and protesters.

Clashes between protesters and Hong Kong police have intensified, as pro-democracy activists schedule more protests.

On Saturday, July 27, thousands of Hon Kong people, including airline staff wearing black tops held a sit-in to let their voices be heard by visitors to the island city.

On Sunday, July 28, hundreds of thousands of protesters participated in a peaceful march in Yuen Long, despite police’s refusal to grant approval for the event. The demonstrators were protesting the police’s deliberately slow response on Sunday, July 21, when a group of men in white T-shirts, carrying wooden or metal poles started attacking and beating commuters, especially those dressed in black.

The attackers assumed that these people must have participated in a peaceful march that drew 430,000 people earlier during the day. At least 45 people were injured on Sunday July 21 during the Yuen Long attack. The police arrived only 30 minutes after the attack. Enraged local residents alleged that the police had showed up late deliberately. Police had arrested a few of the attackers and found that they had triad backgrounds.

“Heavy-handed Response”

According to organizer of the July 28 Yuen Long march, nearly 300,000 people joined in the event. But the peaceful march erupted into clashes when riot police retaliated forcefully by firing rubber-coated rounds, volleys of tear gas, and sponge grenades at protesters, leading to pandemonium in the streets.

Video footage showed riot police advancing threateningly and protesters retreating, amid clouds of tear gas.

Numerous tweets and viral footage show, what appears to be suspected triad members attacking people wearing black tops and hardhats, commuters, journalists, and even a pregnant woman, who was not wearing black. According to Ming Pao Daily, the woman, who was beaten unconscious is in stable condition.

Since early June, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists have been calling for the withdrawal of a highly controversial extradition bill that would allow the Chinese Communist Party to extradite people—locals and/or foreigners—to China for trial.

Since then, their demands extended to include independent inquiry into alleged police violence.

“The violent scenes in Yuen Long tonight were in part because Hong Kong police chose to inflame a tense situation rather than deescalate it,” Amnesty stated in statement posted on its website. “For police to declare today’s protest unlawful was simply wrong under international law.”

Amnesty International condemned the police’s “heavy-handed response” to the protest as “unacceptable.”