Weapons of Mass Control, Tactics of Mass Resistance

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December 17, 2019 | Originally published by Date Line: December 17 on

As the showdown between police and protesters in Hong Kong has intensified, officers have used increasing force, deploying an arsenal of crowd-control measures and weapons, including tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, sponge grenades, and bean bag rounds. Protesters have also stepped up their actions, hurling petrol bombs, vandalizing mainland Chinese banks and businesses believed to be pro-Beijing, throwing bricks at police stations, and battling officers in the streets – in some cases, with metal bars.

The protests erupted over planned legislation that would have allowed extraditions from Hong Kong to mainland China. Police say they have fired over 6,000 tear gas rounds, around 2,400 rubber bullets, some 700 sponge grenades, and over 500 bean bag rounds. Police have also fired live bullets on at least 11 occasions during the protests, injuring two people, a Reuters analysis shows.

While the number of protests has dropped in recent weeks, the violence has intensified. Reuters scrutinized hundreds of images of the protests, as well as dozens of police reports and video footage, and combined this research with reporting on the ground to document the weapons used by the police and protesters and how the violence has escalated from day to day.