The Storming of Legislative Council refers to the siege, break-in, and subsequent occupation of the Legislative Council Complex by anti-government activists on 1 July 2019 during the campaign to halt the enactment of the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill.
Protesters broke into the locked legislative council building by smashing thick glass doors and prying open metal security curtains. After they had broken through late into the night, they poured into the building and spray-painted slogans on the walls and caused extensive damage. More than 60 glass doors and panes were broken. Protesters vented their anger and frustration at the government for failing to respond to any of their demands. They climbed onto desks in the legislature’s main chamber and reached up to spray the official city emblem with black paint, obliterating the portion which read “People’s Republic of China”, only leaving Hong Kong’s part of the emblem untouched, reflecting protesters’ desire to preserve the freedoms, autonomy and judicial independence of Hong Kong, while maintaining its legislature and economic system separate from mainland China. Slogans were also spray-painted on the walls in Chinese and English. “Destroy the Chinese Communist Party,” read one. “Hong Kong is not China,” said another. One slogan directed towards Carrie Lam was sprayed in Chinese on a column inside the building read: “It was you who told me peaceful marches did not work”.
After the protest, demonstrators and legislators condemned the Hong Kong police for deliberately allowing protesters to ram the glass doors and windows of the LegCo in front of cameras and television crews for hours, without any arrests or clearance. A The New York Times journalist remarked on the “notable [and] ominous” absence of the police and questioned the lack of action to prevent the legislature from being stormed, asserting that the police force “no longer sees its purpose as maintaining public order and is, instead, carrying out the government’s political agenda.” The police explained that their decision to retreat was after “considering a number of factors”. However, observers have asserted it was allowed to happen to manipulate public opinion and blame protesters in an attempt to seize the moral high ground.
Carrie Lam held a press conference at 4 am stating that she acknowledged the peaceful and orderly march, but condemned strongly the “violence and vandalism by protesters who stormed into the Legislative Council building”. However, Lam dodged questions regarding recent deaths, and the government left the unanswered questions out of the official transcript, an act criticised by the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) for hindering public’s right to know. Information Services Department responded that the transcript released was not a “verbatim”.
Nine days after the occupation, on 9 July, the government held a press conference during which Carrie Lam announced that the extradition bill was “dead”. It is considered a watershed event in the 2019 Hong Kong protests. The costs to repair the damage was estimated to be around US$5 million.
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