Protests and clashes are the new normal for Hong Kong. Home to 7 million people, it was once considered one of the safest cities in the region, but demonstrations triggered in June by an extradition bill that would send suspects to mainland China have turned into a broader anti-government movement.
For residents, the protests have not only changed their way of life but also how they see their government and the people charged with protecting the city – a loss of trust so complete, say experts, that it calls into question whether the Hong Kong government will ever be able to govern effectively again.
'The government has lost the trust of a whole generation,' said Dr. Ma Ngok, an associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. 'There is a possibility the movement may die down because of the amount of force or prosecution, but that doesn’t mean the government is winning over these people, especially the young people. They will be angry at both the government and police for years to come.'
Marches and rallies have long been a part of Hong Kong civic life, but the past two months have represented a major departure. The protests have also taken a darker turn in recent weeks as clashes have become more violent.
Both protesters and police have grown more exhausted and angry, and neither show signs of backing down. Police have fired teargas in 14 of Hong Kong’s 18 districts, and protesters have set fires, thrown petrol bombs and vandalised police stations and other government buildings.
Residents caught in the crossfire or witnessing the clashes have begun to come out to condemn the police.