HONG KONG — Protesters armed with bows and arrows on Thursday reinforced the siege-like fortifications they had built on Hong Kong university campuses in anticipation of clashes with the police, and a 70-year-old man died after being struck in the head, possibly by a thrown brick.
President Xi Jinping also gave his toughest public comments yet about the protests that have roiled Hong Kong since June, saying China supported the police “in sternly enforcing the law.”
The protests started over an extradition bill that has since been withdrawn, and have morphed into broader demands for democracy and police accountability.
Here’s the latest on the Hong Kong protests.
Fears of a police crackdown on campuses.
The police kicked off the workday on Thursday by spraying tear gas at an entrance of Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Around the same time, the university sent an email to the staff urging them to leave the campus “in view of the escalating danger and a high risk of bodily injury.”
Tensions were also running high at other universities. Several others — including PolyU, Chinese University, Hong Kong Baptist University and the University of Hong Kong — have canceled on-campus lectures for the remainder of the fall semester.
At C.U.H.K., protesters were seen building brick walls around the campus entrances. “All day all night,” read a slogan someone spray-painted on one of the walls, “We are gonna fight.”
Protesters at C.U.H.K. and PolyU have also practiced shooting firebombs out of giant, makeshift slingshots.
The police have said they believe C.U.H.K. is being used as a “factory” to make gasoline bombs, bows and arrows, and other rudimentary weapons for use against officers. “The rioters have gone one step closer to terrorism,” John Tse, a top police official, told reporters on Thursday.
At the University of Hong Kong, protesters have used bricks and bamboo poles to erect elaborate roadblocks. In a Facebook post on Wednesday night, the university’s president urged members of the campus not to “create any situation which will lead to police entering the campus to search, to investigate or to make arrests.”
The university said in a memo to students on Thursday that it was suspending classes on its main campus for the remainder of the fall term “in view of the uncertain and unsafe traffic conditions” for traveling there.
A death and mounting injuries.
Thousands of masked people, many on their lunch breaks from day jobs in office towers, flooded Hong Kong’s Central business district around midday on Thursday, the fourth consecutive day of such protests.
The office workers, wearing high heels and tucked-in dress shirts, were expressing solidarity with the front-line activists who have been disrupting mass transit and clashing with the police all week.
The workers who took to the streets chanted “Hong Kong people, take revenge” — a slogan that became popular after the death of the student who fell from the parking garage. Some of the workers formed a human chain to help funnel supplies to black-clad activists who were blocking roads with traffic cones and overturned dumpsters.
Transit disruptions across town.
President Xi Jinping said on Thursday that China “staunchly supports the Hong Kong police in sternly enforcing the law,” and that the city’s most urgent task was “to halt the violence and chaos and to restore order.”
Mr. Xi’s comments came a few days after he gave public backing to Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, whose reputation has been battered by the protests.
Supporters of the Hong Kong police and government marched on Thursday through Yuen Long, a district in northern Hong Kong that was the site of a mob attack on antigovernment demonstrators in July.
“It is right to fire!” some of them chanted, referring to recent police shootings.
Keith Bradsher, Ezra Cheung, Tiffany May, Elaine Yu and Edward Wong contributed reporting from Hong Kong, and Chris Buckley from Beijing.