Hong Kong protesters swarm police headquarters, tensions over extradition bill escalate

PHOTO:A protester throws eggs to police headquarters in Hong Kong, June 21, 2019.PlayVincent Yu/AP
WATCH Record-breaking protests continue in Hong Kong

Thousands of protesters besieged police headquarters in Hong Kong Friday to demand the release of fellow protesters still in custody after last week's violent skirmish.

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Protesters, many of them students from local universities, decided to escalate the protests after saying the government ignored their deadline on Thursday to respond to their demands.

PHOTO:A protester throws eggs to police headquarters in Hong Kong, June 21, 2019. Vincent Yu/AP
PHOTO:A protester throws eggs to police headquarters in Hong Kong, June 21, 2019.

The day began with a peaceful student sit-in at the Hong Kong government complex but soon escalated as thousands of masked protesters swelled the ranks.

They initially occupied roads then shifted their tactics by disrupting government offices in two districts before converging on the Hong Kong police headquarters, where they blocked and barricaded most of the entrances.

PHOTO: Police officers hold on to the gate as they block and argue with protesters who surrounded the police headquarters in Hong Kong, June 21, 2019. Ring Yu/AP
Police officers hold on to the gate as they block and argue with protesters who surrounded the police headquarters in Hong Kong, June 21, 2019.

The protesters are frustrated with the government response to the much-reviled extradition bill that threatened to allow Hong Kong residents to be legally extradited to Mainland China.

The bill has precipitated one of the most serious political crises in the semi-autonomous region since it was returned to China in 1997.

The Hong Kong government indefinitely halted work on the bill last weekend and members of the government, including Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, have issued apologies. Still, protesters have called for her resignation.

They called for Lam to scrap the bill entirely and demanded to speak with police commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-Chung to have him answer for what they believe was an excessive use of force by the police when they cleared protesters with tear gas, batons hits and rubber bullets that left at least 82 injured.

PHOTO: Protesters attend a rally outside the Wanchai Police headquarters in Hong Kong, June 21, 2019. Roman Pilipey/EPA via Shutterstock
Protesters attend a rally outside the Wanchai Police headquarters in Hong Kong, June 21, 2019.

On Friday, some protesters pelted the exterior of wall of the police headquarters with eggs throughout the day. Despite the size of the crowd, there has been a light police presence for much of the day except for a few attempts by police negotiators to ask those demonstrating to disperse.

Police said on Twitter post that by 5:30 p.m. local, officers had been unable to respond to 43 neighborhood emergency calls because of the protests.