But beginning on Tuesday night, tens of thousands of protesters poured into the streets, blocking major roads leading to the government complex with barriers, cars, and massive crowds. Some Christian groups sang hymns outside the government buildings while others joined a 72-hour prayer-a-thon for the “safety of the city.” Police used water cannons and pepper spray to try to disperse the crowds. But by the time of the scheduled debate at 11 a.m. Wednesday, lawmakers were blocked from reaching the Legislative Council building, and council President Andrew Leung announced the debate would be postponed.
“The government decided to ignore the popular will with pathetic excuses,” 18-year-old protester Sunny Chan told Quartz. “I’ve decided to use this last opportunity to protect my freedoms.”
The atmosphere grew increasingly tense as the afternoon wore on. Around 3:30 p.m., protesters in front of the Legislative Council complex began charging forward, armed only with umbrellas. Behind them, the mass of protesters chanted, “Go, Hong Kongers!” In response, police pepper-sprayed the protesters, then released tear gas to clear the area. Cell phone videos show protesters throwing umbrellas and other objects at riot police, who responded by beating them with batons. Police also shot rubber bullets and beanbag rounds, according to the police chief Stephen Lo.