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Hong Kong protesters storm government buildings, face off with police

Protests in Hong Kong again turned violent Monday, as people stormed government buildings, breaking windows and defacing walls, in a fiery denunciation of the city's chief executive, Carrie Lam, and her attempts to cede new power to mainland China. Some of the protesters insist they have already exhausted peaceful means in their effort to retain Hong Kong's independence. Nick Schifrin reports.

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  • William Brangham:

    This has been a day of spreading protests and rising tensions in Hong Kong, 22 years since Britain handed the city back to mainland China.

    Activists took their demands for democracy to the very heart of Hong Kong's government today, before police regained control.

    Foreign affairs correspondent Nick Schifrin reports from Hong Kong.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    This is the seat of power in Hong Kong, and, tonight, it's been defaced, occupied, and abandoned. There are actually no protesters here left here. But, over the last 18 hours, protesters broke into this building through heavy glass, and occupied this space.

    They believe that legislators here were trying to push through a very controversial and unpopular extradition law that would allow Hong Kong to extradite suspected criminals to the mainland China. But their fears are larger than that. They fear that the independence that Hong Kong has enjoyed for years is being eroded.

    And just a few minutes ago, I spoke to one of those protesters, and he was unrepentant for the violence.

  • Man:

    Some may say we broke in the glass doors, the entrance. We are breaking government properties. But they can't say it's violence, because the tyrant's there.

    We know there is a price we have to pay. Some of us are going to prison for a few years. Or maybe there's some young people, their future is destroyed in this movement. This is our home. Like, if we're not doing this, I don't think there's any other people who will.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    There are people within this movement who say that this was a mistake, and that you needed to stay peaceful in order to make your point. What's your response to that?

  • Man:

    Like, we have to find all the peaceful ways. And what did the government — what was the government's response? It's nothing. We have to do something to force the government to respond to us.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    A few minutes after they left the chamber, the protesters came out here, and we saw a real clash with police. Police fired tear gas to try and disperse the crowd.

    And, for now, it seems to be have working. We're actually retreating with the protesters away from the legislative council. So, it seems like, for now, the police have won the battle.

    But these protesters say that this is a war, and they will keep fighting it. They will keep fighting until the chief administration, Carrie Lam, steps down, until she withdraws fully the extradition bill.

    And they say they will continue to fight the feeling that Hong Kong is losing some of its independence. And they will keep going on that behalf.

    I'm Nick Schifrin in Hong Kong.

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