posted at 18:00
Author: The Associated Press
Hong Kong protests escalate as police use pepper spray, water hoses
Pro-democracy protesters clashed with police early Monday as they tried to surround Hong Kong government headquarters, stepping up their movement for genuine democratic reforms after camping out on the city's streets for more than two months. As thousands of protesters remained on the streets on into the morning, police monitored the crowds via flyovers above the site, with some reporting that the authorities were taunting the protesters below. After student leaders told a large crowd rallying Sunday evening at the main protest site outside government headquarters that they would escalate their campaign, hundreds of protesters pushed past police lines on the other side of the complex from the protest site. The protesters, many wearing surgical masks, hard hats and safety goggles and chanting "I want true democracy," said they wanted to occupy the road to prevent Leung and other government officials from getting to work in the morning. At one point, police charged the crowd, aggressively pushing demonstrators back with pepper spray and batons, after some protesters started pelting them with water bottles and other objects. Police Senior Superintendent Tsui Wai-hung said 40 protesters had been arrested, adding that authorities would not let the road, a major thoroughfare, remain blocked. "I really want to have real elections for Hong Kong because I don't want the Chinese government to control us, our minds, anything," said protester Ernie Kwok, 21, a maintenance worker and part-time student. Authorities last week used an aggressive operation to clear out the protest camp on the busy streets of Hong Kong's crowded Mong Kok district, one of three protest zones around the semiautonomous city.

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