Radical protesters committed extensive destructive acts in areas of Admiralty and Wan Chai in Hong Kong Island on Sunday as an unlawful assembly in Hong Kong turned violent again.
Rioters threw Molotov cocktails into the Wan Chai Mass Transit Railway (MTR) Station and set fires on roads and near MTR entrances.
Some radicals hurled bricks and petrol bombs at police officers trying to keep order near the headquarters of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government.
Traffic was disrupted as protesters moved trash cans and dismantled iron railings. They also broke road surface to collect bricks used against the police.
At around 6:15 p.m. (local time), a black-clad man scaled a flagpole outside the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wan Chai and removed the Chinese national flag from the flagpole while a mob around held umbrellas to shield him. They later torched the flag on the ground.
The desecration of the national flag has occurred a number of times in recent unrests. The HKSAR government has strongly condemned such acts, saying they violated the National Flag and National Emblem Ordinance and offenders could face imprisonment for up to three years.
Hong Kong police said in a statement that the violent acts on Sunday afternoon posed "a serious threat to the safety of everyone at scene," and after repeated warnings to the radicals went futile, they had deployed tear gas and used appropriate force to disperse them.
Given the violent incidents, 23 bus routes were suspended and more than 70 had traffic diversion. Metro trains also had to skip several stations in affected areas.
Several shopping malls were closed, and the swimming pool, tennis courts and bowling greens of Victoria Park and the Hong Kong Central Library also suspended services.
"Of course it will affect our business and cause sales to fall," said a woman when pulling down the shutters of a grocery store in the shopping district of Causeway Bay at about 2:00 p.m. (local time).
Some hotels in Wan Chai temporarily shut their gates as a gaggle of protesters walked by and advised their guests to mind their personal safety.
The violence on Sunday followed a night of unrest on Saturday that saw radicals block roads and throw petrol bombs outside the HKSAR goverment headquarters complex.
Since June, Hong Kong has witnessed escalating violence that originated from protests over the proposed ordinance amendments concerning fugitive offenders transfers.
Although the HKSAR government has withdrawn the amendments, violence continued as protesters veered off their original agenda to raise the ante, causing a split in society and taking a heavy toll on the economy.
On Thursday evening, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Carrie Lam and other officials had candid communication with the members of the public at the first "Community Dialogue." Lam said she will continue reaching out to people through dialogues to seek a way out for Hong Kong.