Hong Kong police fired tear gas at costumed protesters who organized a Halloween “masquerade” Thursday to challenge a government ban on demonstrators wearing face masks. In early October, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam invoked colonial-era emergency powers to implement the ban.
The mask ban has been heavily ignored by protesters and police have struggled to enforce it. As party-goers and protesters donned costumes, police closed off sections of central Hong Kong and Kowloon before using tear gas to break up crowds at around 10 p.m. local time.
Protesters wore a wide range of costumes, including Guy Fawkes masks, Joker makeup and tear gas canisters. Some used the occasion to slight Chinese President Xi Jinping by wearing masks of his face or Winnie-the-Pooh, whose image has been long blocked from Chinese social media after people compared the bear’s physique to the Chinese leader.
In the foreground, a protester wears a mask lampooning Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam. In the background, someone wears a mask of China’s President Xi Jinping.Shannon Stapleton/REUTERS
Earlier in the day, authorities had announced that Lan Kwai Fong, a popular district with a high concentration of bars and clubs, would be closed in anticipation of the protests. In a video, officials warned that they had the right to remove masks and arrest those who resist.Article continues after sponsor message
“Police do not rule out the possibility of any violent incident happening,” police superintendent Louis Lau said.