Pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo said the city was now trapped in a “vicious cycle” where huge peaceful marches that have been ignored by the government end with violence between police and small groups of hardcore protesters.
“You see force being escalated on both sides but then this is a huge imbalance because the police are in possession of deadly weapons. This sums up Hong Kong today,” she told AFP.
Tensions were significantly raised after last weekend’s attack by a pro-government mob in Yuen Long.
The town is in Hong Kong’s rural New Territories where many of the surrounding villages are known for triad connections and their staunch support for the pro-Beijing establishment.
That brazen assault resulted in at least 45 people being taken to hospital. Police were heavily criticised for being too slow to respond to the violence, fuelling accusations of collusion or turning a blind eye to the pro-government mob – allegations the force has denied.
In a rare move, police banned Saturday’s rally saying they feared reprisal attacks against villagers from protesters, a decision that only heightened anger towards a force already perceived to be protecting pro-government aggressors.