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Timeline: The Hong Kong protests

Police violence, protester vandalism, and a new anthem for a free Hong Kong in ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations

Timeline: The Hong Kong protests

Demonstrators hold up the mobile phone lights as they form a human chain at the Peak, a tourist spot in Hong Kong, on Sept. 13. (Kin Cheung/AP)

WORLD first published this timeline on Aug. 30 and is periodically updating it as events develop. For the newest entries, please see the bottom of the page.

Political unrest in Hong Kong has accelerated since early this year, when the local government proposed a controversial new extradition law. The law would make it easier to send Hong Kong residents to mainland China to stand trial, a measure many people believe would undermine Hong Kongers’ legal protections. Over the summer, the movement has vacillated between peaceful demonstrations of millions of marchers and bloody clashes between protesters and police.

The week-by-week recap of the anti-extradition movement below takes as its starting point the June 9 march that drew a million Hong Kong citizens to the streets. Due to the numerous demonstrations and the largely diffuse nature of the movement so far—the lack of a leader, spontaneous logistics via the messaging app Telegram and the online forum Lihkg.com, and no single specific protest site—this timeline is not exhaustive: It focuses on significant events and turning points. The crowd size estimates come from protest organizers.

Week 1:

June 9: One million Hong Kong citizens participate in a largely peaceful march against the controversial extradition bill. Despite the historic turnout in a region with a total population of 7.5 million, Chief Executive Carrie Lam insists on proceeding with the bill. 

Vincent Yu/AP

Protesters march on June 9 in a rally against the proposed extradition law in Hong Kong. (Vincent Yu/AP)

June 12: During another large demonstration against the extradition bill, clashes between protesters and police mark a violent turning point for the movement. 

June 14: Mothers in support of young protesters hold a rally with thousands in attendance. 

June 15: Carrie Lam announces the suspension of the extradition bill

Week 2:

June 16: Despite Lam’s concession, Hong Kongers insist on the extradition bill’s complete withdrawal, with 2 million citizens marching again in a peaceful protest. 

June 21-22: Angered by the excessive use of police force at the June 12 demonstration, thousands of protesters besiege the Wan Chai police headquarters. They demand a retraction of the government’s characterization of the June 12 protest as a “riot” and demand that arrested protesters be released.

Week 3:

June 24: Civil disobedience overtakes the Revenue Tower, where over 100 protesters occupy the tax office, halting government operations. To garner global support from the G-20 summit later in the week, activists launch a crowdfunding campaign to place advertisements in major international newspapers, including The New York Times

 Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Protesters storm the Revenue Tower in Hong Kong on June 24. ( Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

June 26: Protesters deliver petitions to foreign consulates. In the evening, thousands gather for a G-20 rally, followed by another rally at the Wan Chai police headquarters.

Week 4:

July 1: On the anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China, hundreds of thousands of citizens take part in an annual pro-democracy march. Meanwhile, another group storms the legislative building

July 5: Thousands of mothers in Hong Kong rally again in support of student protesters.

Week 5:

July 7: Aiming to raise awareness among mainland tourists, 230,000 Hong Kong residents march to West Kowloon station, a hub for trains connecting Hong Kong and China. 

July 9: Carrie Lam declares the extradition bill “dead,” but the bill remains functionally suspended, not withdrawn.

Week 6:

July 14: Mayhem breaks out in a Sha Tin mall following an afternoon of peaceful protest. Clearing the demonstration, police chase down protesters retreating into the shopping center, where skirmishes between protesters and police result in dozens of injuries. 

July 17: Thousands of senior citizens rally in Hong Kong’s Central District to support young protesters.

Week 7:

July 21: In a bloody attack at the Yuen Long train station, suspected triad gang members dressed in white ruthlessly beat citizens wearing black, as black-clad protesters head home after a mass rally that ended with the vandalism of the China Liaison Office. The event deepens public distrust in the police, who do little to stop the violence.

July 26: An estimated 15,000 protesters occupy the airport to draw international tourists’ attention to the anti-extradition demonstrations.

ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images

Protesters stand in line to become a human Lennon Wall as they rally at the international airport in Hong Kong on July 26. (ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

July 27: Angered by the Yuen Long attack, residents rally in Yuen Long in a tense standoff between riot police and protesters. 

Week 8:

July 28: Demonstrations against police brutality take place in multiple areas of Hong Kong Island—Causeway Bay, Central, Sai Wan, Sheung Wan, and Wan Chai—with protesters blocking roads and starting fires. Police deploy tear gas, rubber bullets, and pepper spray in clearance operations. 

Aug. 1: Workers from the finance sector hold a rally in Central with over 1,000 participants. 

Aug. 2: Defying political neutrality, civil servants hold their own rally, with an estimated turnout of 40,000. The same evening, 10,000 medical professionals also gather for a demonstration.

Week 9:

Aug. 5: Chaos seizes the city due to a general strike that results in hundreds of canceled flights and cripples several subway lines. Protesters besiege multiple police stations. The police fire over 800 rounds of tear gas and make 148 arrests. 

Aug. 7: Thousands of lawyers hold a silent march, their second in two months. Later, at the space museum, demonstrators flash laser beams over the domed structure in protest of a university student’s arrest for purchasing laser pointers police deemed “offensive weapons.” 

PHILIP FONG/AFP/Getty Images

Lawyers and members of the election committee’s legal sector hold a silent march on Aug. 7. (PHILIP FONG/AFP/Getty Images)

Week 10: 

Aug. 11: At a protest near Tsim Sha Tsui police station, a police-fired beanbag round hits and ruptures a young woman’s eye. The same night, riot police chase protesters into Tai Koo subway station, firing pepper ball rounds, and launch tear gas inside Kwai Fong subway station. 

Aug. 12-13: Airlines cancel hundreds of flights as protesters, angered over the excessive use of police force, stage a large-scale airport occupation. The predominately peaceful occupation ends in violence when protesters discover two mainland Chinese men in their midst, whom they zip tie and beat.

Aug. 16: A rally for members of higher education draws 60,000 participants. 

Aug. 17: A teachers’ rally draws 22,000 participants. 

Week 11: 

Aug. 18: An estimated 1.7 million Hong Kongers stage a peaceful demonstration. 

Vincent Thian/AP

Protesters gather in Hong Kong on Aug. 18. (Vincent Thian/AP)

Aug. 19: A second crowdfunding campaign places advertisements in international newspapers.

Aug. 23: Thousands of accountants participate in a noontime rally. Later, over 210,000 citizens join hands to make a 30-mile “Hong Kong Way” human chain, recreating the anti-Soviet Baltic Way demonstration 30 years earlier. 

Aug. 24: Demonstrators in Kwun Tong pull down smart lampposts over fears of surveillance.   

Week 12: 

Aug. 25: Protesters throw bricks and Molotov cocktails in Tsuen Wan, and police use water cannons for the first time, along with a live warning shot from a gun. 

Kin Cheung/AP

Police clash with demonstrators during a protest in Hong Kong on Aug. 25. (Kin Cheung/AP)

Aug. 28: Hundreds rally to protest China’s pressure on the Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific. Earlier in August, Beijing rebuked the airline over its staff’s anti-extradition involvement, leading to the resignation of CEO Rupert Hogg and the firing of several staff members.

Aug. 29: Authorities at the Hong Kong airport arrest Andy Chan, a Hong Kong independence activist.

Aug. 30: Hong Kong police arrest two young leaders of the pro-democracy organization Demosistō, Agnes Chow and Joshua Wong, charging them with organizing illegal rallies. The two are released on bail the same day. Police also arrest three pro-democracy legislators, Cheng Chung-tai, Au Nok-hin, and Jeremy Tam, for offenses in previous protests. They are released on bail the next day.

Aug. 31: Protests escalate on the fifth anniversary of Beijing’s restriction on universal suffrage in Hong Kong. Demonstrators throw bricks and Molotov cocktails, set barricades on fire, and vandalize train stations. Police fire water cannons with blue dye to identify protesters. At Prince Edward station, riot police beat and pepper-spray passengers.

Week 13: 

Sept. 1: Activists stage a sit-in at the Hong Kong airport, vandalize airport train stations, and block roads leading to the terminal. Airlines cancel 41 flights. 

Sept. 2: On the first day of class, an estimated 30,000 college students from 11 institutions begin a two-week class boycott. Over 4,000 high-school students from at least 230 schools gather for a rally.

Sept. 4: Chief Executive Carrie Lam announces the official withdrawal of the extradition bill, giving in to a key demand of protesters. But the public views the concession as too little, too late. 

Vincent Yu/AP

A man at a home electronics store in Hong Kong watches Carrie Lam make an announcement on the extradition bill on Sept. 4. (Vincent Yu/AP)

Sept. 6: Calling for police accountability, demonstrators at Prince Edward subway station demand the release of security camera footage showing the Aug. 31 riot police actions. Protesters vandalize Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei subway stations out of anger toward MTR Corp., Hong Kong’s railway operator, for its cooperation with the police.  

Sept. 7: Demonstrators vandalize multiple train stations in the New Territories.        

Week 14:    

Sept. 8: Tens of thousands of citizens march peacefully to the U.S. Consulate to urge American lawmakers to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Some protesters smash glass at the nearby Central subway station and start a fire at one entrance.

Sept. 9: Thousands of high-school students and graduates form a human chain before classes begin.

Sept. 10-12:Glory to Hong Kong,” a new protest anthem, rings out across shopping malls, where hundreds of citizens gather to sing.

Vincent Yu/AP

Hong Kong residents sing “Glory to Hong Kong” at a shopping mall. (Vincent Yu/AP)

Erica Kwong

Erica Kwong