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With Escalating Violence In Hong Kong, U.S. Urges Both Sides To 'Exercise Restraint'

A protester is detained in Hong Kong on Monday. Hong Kong is in the sixth month of protests that began in June over a proposed extradition law and have grown to include other grievances.
Kin Cheung

A day after increasingly tense clashes between police and protesters in Hong Kong, the U.S. State Department called on both sides to "exercise restraint" and seek "dialogue."

"‎We condemn violence on all sides, extend our sympathies to victims of violence regardless of their political inclinations, and call for all parties — police and protesters — to exercise restraint," said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus in a statement issued late Monday.

"The increased polarization within Hong Kong society underscores the need for a broad-based and sincere dialogue between the government, protesters, and citizenry writ large. The United States urges the Hong Kong government to build on its dialogue with the Hong Kong public and begin efforts to address the underlying concerns driving the protests. We also urge the protesters to respond to efforts at dialogue," Ortagus added.

The statement comes as Reuters reports that riot police fired tear gas at a university campus on Tuesday and protesters blocked streets and subway stations to disrupt commuter railway services.

As NPR's Bill Chappell reported, Monday "was perhaps the most violent day in roughly five months of protests over Hong Kong's relationship with Beijing."

On Monday, a Hong Kong police officer shot an unarmed protester at point-blank range as he held another protester in a headlock. Hong Kong police said the officer acted in self-defense.

Another man was set on fire after an angry exchange with protesters in a different part of the city. The incident caused Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to label the protesters as "the people's enemy" who were "destroying society." She said that about 60 people were injured in Monday's violence.

Lam said she would "spare no effort" to bring the protests to an end.

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Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.