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Protesters In Hong Kong Say Their Situation Is Becoming Dire


A second straight day of clashes has brought much of Hong Kong to a standstill. Protesters have forced the closure of metro stations and rail lines and held increasingly tense standoffs with police. From Hong Kong, NPR's Julie McCarthy reports this months-long conflict now has taken a dangerous turn.

JULIE MCCARTHY, BYLINE: The protesters instigated commuter chaos for two days running. Chief Executive Carrie Lam today called those trying to paralyze the city selfish. But protesters signaled their threat to escalate. Graffiti-filled walls read - we burn, you burn with us. Their chants are less about resisting now and more about revenge. A deepening distrust of police animates the protesters as it did today.


UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting in foreign language).

MCCARTHY: And an intensifying anger at the protesters is infusing the police.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Foreign language spoken).


MCCARTHY: They fired tear gas today in the heart of the commercial district as they faced off with demonstrators. Among the protesters' demands are democratic reforms and an inquiry into police handling of the ongoing turmoil. The shooting of a 21-year-old masked protester by police Monday has fueled those calls. No one was reassured, either, when a 57-year-old man was set on fire Monday for reportedly arguing against the protests.

Forty-year-old Hong Kong resident Rikki (ph), who chose to use only her first name, says she's dismayed at the violence and the direction authorities are taking the city.

RIKKI: It's like a police state now - unbelievable. We want the world to realize that Hong Kongers need their help to support us to survive - not anything else, just survive.

MCCARTHY: We encountered Rikki not far from The Chinese University in Hong Kong. For much of the day, it was the scene of a fierce standoff between students and police. They were looking for students who allegedly disrupted the rail lines that run behind the campus. By night, it had become a citizen mobilization, with people ferrying water, medicine and protective gear to the students. As the students held the line inside, outside the citizens leaned in with them, forging what seemed tonight to be a new layer of protest in Hong Kong.

Julie McCarthy, NPR News, Hong Kong.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Julie McCarthy has spent most of career traveling the world for NPR. She's covered wars, prime ministers, presidents and paupers. But her favorite stories "are about the common man or woman doing uncommon things," she says.
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