As soon as the police arrived, everything changed.
Tensions at Hong Kong international airport had been high all day. The protesters had clearly chosen it under the impression that police would hold back (at least from firing tear and pepper gas) if the protesters were in close contact with civilians who were trying to go about their journeys.
At first it seemed like their strategy had worked. When the announcement came over the tannoy that the airport was closed, cheers erupted from the demonstrators.
Then things began to sour.
A group identified someone they thought was suspicious and mob mentality took over. They claimed he was a Chinese undercover policeman.
They beat him up badly and bound him with cable ties. The man was surrounded by a rabid pack of demonstrators. Some of the protesters wanted to protect him, but others had serious intentions of harm.
The man could well have been a policeman, as shortly after police began to arrive and tried to get inside.
What unfolded next was unlike anything I have ever witnessed in a building like an airport in all my years of reporting.
It was already remarkable that this number of people were able to shut an airport for two days and get away with it. The demonstrations had already been violent, including police having full-on fights with protesters and carrying out very physical arrests.
We all assumed this would simply be a clear-out operation, although I wondered how a situation like this – with many civilians present and thousands of demonstrators, could be dispersed. It would clearly be a big operation.
When the first officers arrived – just nine or 10 of them, if that – and stepped into the main airport building, pandemonium erupted.
As paramedics tried to weave through to reach the man, more chaos raged in the crowd.
The police drew back. The mob drove forward. Luggage, trolleys, umbrellas were lobbed like missiles at the officers.
In full retreat, this small group of cops dove back into their vans and attempted to escape but were blocked in by barricades erected by the protesters, who then tried to smash the windows.
I would not be surprised if the officers inside the vans were frightened for their lives.
Luckily for them, reinforcements arrived and riot officers poured out, smacking into protesters to clear a route. They were on a mission to get the stuck police out of danger.
The atmosphere changed. More and more arrived. This was going to be a confrontation.
Some of the protesters realised and ran back inside, but others tried to keep charging forward only to be beaten back.
All the time police kept arriving and now seemed to know who they were looking for, ignoring some but grabbing others and throwing them into detention in the back of their vans.
To add to this scene of chaos, because only outbound flights were cancelled at this stage, an enormous jet arrived and passengers began to get off – greeted by the wall of noise coming from the protest.
What tipped the scales for the police was the arrival of a special forces unit. Dressed all in black and highly skilled in martial arts, these guys are serious business. They really are rock hard and you would not be surprised if they could kill a man with one punch.
No one went anywhere near them.
They calmly grabbed the other officers still stuck outside and disappeared.
Meanwhile, inside, a scene from earlier appeared to replay. Another group caught a man they found suspicious. Again, they cable tied him and beat him furiously. He was in a pretty serious condition and not well at all.
Some people seemed to be considering killing him. Among the items used to hit him with, they pelted him with the now famous symbol of their resistance – umbrellas.
Throughout this 10-week battle, paramedics have assisted both sides and have managed to stay as neutral as possible. Because of this, a group of medics managed to reach the injured man, despite some of the protesters not liking it.
They got him on a gurney and tried to get out. Hands of demonstrators could be seen grabbing and pulling at the man in an attempt to slide him off this life-saving raft.
But the medics managed to save him. Without them, he would probably still be here and dead.
As I write this, many protesters have left. The smell of pepper spray lingers in the air and on my clothes, still involuntarily making my eyes water.
A surreal scene of dazed, frustrated and tired passengers wondering around waiting for check-ins to open and glancing at the boarding signs is beginning to replace the mass of bodies that filled almost every inch of this cavernous airport entrance.
The question now is what is going to happen next?
One dead, several injured as gunman opens fire at Florida navy base | US News
One person has been killed and several others are injured after a gunman opened fire in a navy base in Florida.
Escambia Sheriff’s spokeswoman Amber Southard confirmed the gunman had also been killed after the shooting at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola.
News outlets are reporting that 10 people have been taken to area hospitals.
Pensacola Police spokesman Mike Wood confirmed that law enforcement responded to the gunman.
A spokesman for the navy base, Jason Bortz, said both gates are closed and the base is on lockdown.
NAS Pensacola employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel, according to its website.
Blind killer Lee Hall who set fire to ex-girlfriend is executed in Tennessee | US News
A blind convicted killer who murdered his ex-girlfriend by setting her on fire has been executed in the US.
Lee Hall is only the second blind inmate to be executed in America since the country reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
He was put to death by electric chair – after choosing the method over lethal injection – at a maximum-security prison in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday evening.
Hall was convicted of killing 22-year-old Traci Crozier by setting her on fire in her car in April 1991.
The 53-year-old, who was formerly known as Leroy Hall Jr, had his sight upon entering prison, but lawyers say he became functionally blind from improperly treated glaucoma.
In his final words, Hall said: “People can learn forgiveness and love and will make this world a better place.”
According to court documents, Hall set Ms Crozier’s car alight while she was inside the vehicle after she had tried to leave him.
She suffered burns across more than 90% of her body and died in hospital the next day.
Ms Crozier’s sister, Staci Wooten, and her father, Gene Crozier, watched Hall’s execution. Hall’s brother David and the killer’s “spiritual adviser” also attended.
Ms Wooten said: “Hopefully today ending this monster’s life will bring some peace within everyone who has had to suffer throughout these 28 years without my beautiful sister.”
Lawyers for Hall had asked federal courts in the US to stop him from being put to death after other attempts in state courts and with Tennessee’s governor had failed.
Those attempts officially came to a halt less than hour before Hall’s execution when the US Supreme Court declined to intervene.
A statement from Hall’s brother David said: “We are devastated by the loss of Traci and now Lee.
“Lee loved Traci more than anything and we welcomed her into our family and love her too. We also love Lee and wish that we could have changed the events of that tragic day.”
Hall’s lawyers fought for months to delay the execution plan, arguing that courts should have had the opportunity to consider new questions about one of the jurors in his case.
The juror – a woman known as “Juror A” – helped hand down the death sentence against Hall.
She acknowledged publicly for the first time this year that she failed to disclose during Hall’s jury selection process that she had been repeatedly raped and abused by her former husband.
Hall’s lawyers argued the omission deprived him of a fair and impartial jury, a right protected in both the Tennessee and US constitutions
However, both the Tennessee Supreme Court and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee declined to intervene.
Manchester United sign deal with Alibaba in China | Business News
Manchester United have signed a partnership deal with Alibaba – the Chinese e-commerce company.
Under the arrangement, aimed at raising the Premier League side’s profile in the world’s second-largest economy, Alibaba will provide club content on its online video platform Youku.com.
The deal will also lead to the creation of a Manchester United store on Alibaba’s business-to-consumer platform Tmall.com, the club said.
Manchester United Group managing director Richard Arnold said: “We are always looking for new ways to engage with fans there and this partnership with Alibaba enables them to connect with the club directly through one of China’s most popular video streaming platforms.”
The club, which already has an established fan base in the country, said that the deal gave it access to approximately 700 million Alibaba customers across various platforms.
Youku viewers, it said, would be able to view academy and club tour matches in addition to women’s games.
Broadcast rights deals prevent the showing of Premier League and other first team fixtures.
Alibaba president Michael Evans added: “Manchester United is one of the most popular and successful football teams in the world, with a sizeable and passionate fan base in China.
“We share the same goal, which is to provide fans with one-of-a-kind online content consumption and shopping that leverages the latest technology.”
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