In Summary
  • Police have ramped up their use of the crowd control measure as two months of rallies in the global financial hub have turned increasingly violent, peaking with 800 rounds fired on Monday in what protesters called a "tear gas buffet".
  • Hardcore demonstrators are responding with ever more creative methods to neutralise the threat, harnessing everything from traffic cones to kitchenware.
  • Demonstrators have formed special "units" in charge of tackling tear gas, which leap into action as soon as a canister is fired.

Hong Kong,

As a tear gas canister clatters onto a street in Hong Kong, a pro-democracy protester wearing heat-proof gloves and carrying a traffic cone sprints from the crowd to put it out.

Police have ramped up their use of the crowd control measure as two months of rallies in the global financial hub have turned increasingly violent, peaking with 800 rounds fired on Monday in what protesters called a "tear gas buffet".

Hardcore demonstrators are responding with ever more creative methods to neutralise the threat, harnessing everything from traffic cones to kitchenware.

Their arsenal includes several must-haves: heat-resistant gloves, so they can pick up searingly hot canisters, and respirators that have been dubbed "pig snouts" in Cantonese.

Online forums host discussions on which models of 3M respirator filters work best against tear gas, and which local hardware stores still have the preferred models in stock.

"I really need to get one! The good masks are already very hard to find on the street," wrote one commenter.

On the streets, protesters compare notes on their equipment and offer tips.

After police fired tear gas at protesters hurling bottles and bricks on Monday, one bystander gasped and rubbed his eyes, attracting the attention of a passing demonstrator who handed him a mask.

"This one's not the good one but it will work," he said. "You've always got to carry one!"

'SPECIAL UNITS'

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