An airline crew member makes his way through a barrier set up by protesters at Hong Kong International Airport on September 1, 2019. - Hundreds of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists attempted to block transport routes to the city's airport on September 1, as the financial hub began cleaning up after another night of serious violence marked by fires, tears gas and police beatings. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP) (Photo credit should read LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP/Getty Images)
Lillian Suwanrumpha—AFP/Getty Images
By TIME Staff
September 1, 2019

Pro-democracy protesters blockaded Hong Kong International Airport Sunday afternoon, disrupting transportation routes and briefly storming one of the terminals a day after violent clashes with police shook the city.

Several hundred black-clad demonstrators gathered outside the airport in the drizzly afternoon, chanting, “fight for freedom,” according to live feeds and reports from the scene. By gridlocking traffic and blocking trains and buses, protesters sought to once again bring one of the world’s busiest aviation hubs to a standstill after chaotic action there last month captured global attention.

According to local media reports, a group of masked protesters stormed into Terminal 1 and shattered a glass door around 1:20 p.m. before airport police pushed them back.

Outside the terminals, protesters jammed the streets with luggage trolleys and metal barriers. Live feeds from the scene showed crowds booing riot police, who accused demonstrators of hurling objects as well as insults.

On Twitter, the Hong Kong Police Force dubbed the protest an “unauthorized assembly” and recalled a court injunction put in place last month to stop obstruction of the airport after demonstrators occupying the terminals caused hundreds of flight cancellations.

On Sunday, an express rail line to the airport was suspended, while traffic snarled on a nearby bridge. In-town check-in services at Airport Express stations were also halted.

Around 4 p.m., police said the protesters were attempting to “paralyze traffic” with water-filled barriers and warned them to leave immediately. Reports of an impending police dispersal operation prompted some to walk away by foot.

The airport demonstration comes a day after violent battles between police and protesters erupted across the city. Protesters were seen throwing petrol bombs at the government headquarters and setting fires in the streets, while police charged into a subway station and indiscriminately clubbed passengers and fired pepper spray.

The long summer of protests in Hong Kong has grown increasingly violent over the 13 consecutive weeks of demonstrations. The latest round of unrest this weekend began with the arrests of a number of activists and lawmakers, as well as intensifying rhetoric from Beijing that has exacerbated fears about a possible intervention in the semiautonomous enclave.

While the protest movement began as a backlash to an unpopular extradition bill, it has since boiled over into a rebellion against the unrepresentative local government, with many calling for greater democracy or even independence from China.

Online, protesters are urging further disruption of traffic to the airport on Monday, while a citywide strike is planned Monday and Tuesday.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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