Thousands Participate In Hong Kong "Umbrella Protests"

Suzanne Robertson
Tear gas is shot into the large crowd of pro-democracy protesters.

Riot police have pulled back from thousands of protesters in Hong Kong who started an "umbrella protest" against China's rules. The umbrellas are a symbol of the pro-democracy demonstrations. 

On Monday, the police defended their use of tear gas and batons against the crowd that has taken over the city's financial district. 

Officials claimed it was necessary to stop the protesters from pushing through lines of law enforcement in riot gear. Over 80 rounds of tear gas was shot into the crowd on Sunday. Reports say that 41 people have been injured so far including 12 police officers.

While many in Hong Kong support the unrest, the protest is not supported by others. 

"I strongly disagree with the protesters," said a woman near the crowd.  "Those who came to the city 60 or 70 years ago had nothing and we worked and suffered so much to make Hong Kong the rich city it is today.  For me, being able to eat and sleep is already a luxury. I don't need democracy."

Among issues being protested is Beijing's decision that candidates in the city's first-ever election must be picked by a committee of pro-Beijing tycoons. 

China has called the protests illegal.  Beijing's Communist government made it clear that unrest would not be tolerated. 

"Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a news briefing. 

The U.S. expressed support for “internationally-recognized fundamental freedoms,” and called for both sides to “refrain from actions that would further escalate tensions.”