Hundreds of people held a vigil Wednesday outside the Hong Kong school of a young demonstrator shot by riot police during violent anti-Beijing protests Tuesday.
Video footage showed a police officer brandishing his weapon and shooting the 18-year-old at close range in the chest as the protester was about to strike the officer with a metal rod. The shooting marked the first time Hong Kong police have used live rounds since the demonstrations began in June.
Hong Kong police chief Stephen Lo said the officer was justified in using his gun because he feared for his life. Riot police fired tear gas and water cannon at umbrella-carrying protesters, who hurled homemade gasoline bombs at them and set several fires throughout the main section of the city
The wounded student is reportedly in stable condition at a Hong Kong hospital. Protesters who gathered outside his school Wednesday held up posters and photos depicting the shooting.
Tuesday’s violent clashes between pro-democracy demonstrators and Hong Kong security forces marred the carefully choreographed celebration in Beijing marking the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party rule in China. The four-month-old protests in Hong Kong, which were sparked by a proposed bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China, mark a direct challenge to Beijing’s tightening grip on the autonomous city.
Although Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam later withdrew the bill, the protests have since evolved into renewed demands for Hong Kongers to choose their own leaders, ending the current system where business elites with ties to Beijing select nearly half the legislative body.
The demonstrators are also demanding an independent inquiry into the possible use of excessive force by police and complete amnesty for all activists arrested.
In his National Day speech Tuesday, President Xi Jinping reaffirmed both Hong Kong and Macau’s one country, two systems autonomy, but emphasized that his government will continue to fight to reunify the entire Chinese population, which includes the autonomously ruled island of Taiwan.