Massive Hong Kong protests broke into clashes with police Wednesday (June 12) as riot officers let off rubber bullets and streams of teargas.
Tempers had flared between police and a crowd trying to surround the city's administration, protesting a bill that would allow extradition to mainland China.
Some demonstrators charged police with umbrellas; plastic bottles were hurled at riot offices.
Police warned them.
Panic spread through the crowd as people fled.
Police confirmed they used plastic bullets on what they called a "riot situation." The city's commissioner said they had "no choice" but to use force.
Earlier in the day mostly young protesters choked the city's downtown, filling up an eight-lane highway and disrupting rush hour.
Major banks and businesses shut down.
They'd set up barricades as they hunkered down for an occupation.
It seemed like a flashback from the city's 2014 Umbrella protests.
Pro-democracy lawmakers rallied supporters.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) PAN-DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKER, CLAUDIA MO, SAYING: "At the end of the umbrella movement, then we had this slogan saying that, 'we will be back.'
We are back!" (SOUNDBITE) (English) PAN-DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKER, CLAUDIA MO, SAYING: "Now guys, this morning I was asked: 'what's happening to Hong Kong?
It seems to be plunging into chaos!'
I said: 'it's not chaos!
It's very organised!'
Before the crackdown, the protest did achieve a delay to the vote on the bill, set for Wednesday.
The extradition law is also what triggered one of Hong Kong's biggest protests in history on Sunday (June 9).
Organisers say more than a million people took to the streets that day, sparking this political crisis.
Then, as on Wednesday, people called on Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down.
But Lam has stood defiant.
She's vowed to press ahead with the bill which is backed by the legislature, which is mostly pro-Beijing.
Since its handover from Britain, Hong Kong was meant to keep some autonomy until 2047.
However, many in the city accuse China of meddling in the city's affairs since.
From obstructing democratic reforms, to interfering with local elections.
Human rights groups have cited China's alleged use of torture and arbitrary and forced detentions as reasons why Hong Kong shouldn't allow the law to pass.
China denies accusations that it tramples on human rights.
On Wednesday, Beijing's Foreign Ministry expressed "firm support" for Hong Kong authorities.