HONG KONG — Christmas Eve, ordinarily a night of revelry in Hong Kong, was filled with tear gas and pepper spray as riot police officers clashed with pro-democracy protesters who gathered at malls and shopping districts.
Two dozen people were injured, including one protester who fell over a railing and at least one floor in a shopping mall while trying to evade arrest, and another who fell from the roof of a restaurant that was being raided by the police.
The police said the man at the mall was being treated for injuries at a hospital and had been arrested on charges of assaulting an officer. Officials did not comment on the other man’s status, but witnesses said he was conscience at the time of his fall.
The protests, which began in June over a since-withdrawn proposal that would allow extraditions to mainland China, have entered a period of relative calm. But occasional flare-ups continue.
On Tuesday, thousands of protesters flooded the Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district and clashed with the police, who fired pepper spray and tear gas.
The police said some protesters had built barricades, vandalized stores and set fire to the entrance of a subway station. One clash took place outside one of Hong Kong’s most expensive hotels, the Peninsula.
For six months, protesters have staged regular demonstrations, sometimes violent, over concerns that China’s central government is increasing its control over the semiautonomous territory. They have called for expanded elections, amnesty for arrested demonstrators and an investigation into the police’s use of force.
“I have especially come out to stand with our young protesters,” said Alan Ming, 61, a retired factory owner. “I have never felt more upset on a Christmas Eve. I feel heavy-hearted.”
In the Mong Kok neighborhood, a man was assaulted after getting into a dispute with protesters.
Christmas Eve in Hong Kong is usually a good night for businesses, but many of the people who crowded through shopping districts were not there to shop.
Protesters vandalized a bank in the Mong Kok district.
Riot police officers dispersed crowds, clashing with protesters.
Flash mobs turned up at numerous malls.
Volunteer medics treated a protester in Tsim Sha Tsui who was injured in a clash.
Protesters set a fire in the middle of a street in Mong Kok.
The scene on the waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui.