'Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Men.' Well, not exactly this Christmas in Hong Kong as pro-democracy violence erupted again - this time on Christmas at a shopping mall.
Plain-clothes police pummeled protesters at Harbor Mall on Christmas Eve. Some of the officers used batons to disperse demonstrators as shoppers attempted to make last-minute Christmas purchases.
And police clashed with protestors outside Mongkok Mall on Christmas Day, throwing some to the ground and using tear gas and pepper spray. At least 25 people were injured in two days of Christmas violence.
Police said the demonstrations were illegal. Protestors set fires as barriers were put up to block roads and prevent police from advancing. Some of the fires stopped people from entering subway stations.
Although pro-democracy candidates overwhelmingly won district council elections a month ago, Beijing refuses to give in to their demands. And now a new development: the Hong Kong government has moved to freeze the financial assets of the pro-democracy group Spark Alliance. The government claims the crowd-funded group is illegally laundering money.
The protestors say Hong Kong is a financial hub and capitalized city—so they argue proof is needed.
"In this city with a free market, we cannot arbitrarily try to sue someone with money laundering without any substantial evidence," insisted rally organizer Sonny Cheung.
Several months after pro-democracy protests began, activists remain steadfast in their demands.
They want pro-Beijing Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down and they want universal voting rights. Currently, the Chinese communist government decides which candidates will be allowed to run for Hong Kong's top position. The protestors also want arrested activists set free and an investigation of police brutality against pro-democracy protestors.
Lam responded tweeting that the violent acts only dampened the festive mood of Christmas and adversely affected local businesses.
The protestors say their Christmas rallies and demonstrations send a clear message to Beijing: protests will continue until Beijing responds and fulfills its promise of one country, two systems: communism on the mainland, and a true democracy for Hong Kong.