Hong Kong protesters sprayed with tear gas after ripping down ‘smart lampposts’

Clashes resumed Saturday as protesters in Hong Kong hurled bricks and tore down lampposts equipped with surveillance technology, escalating as police to threw tear gas into the crowd.

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It's the 12th straight weekend of demonstrations, which have spread to reflect wider demands for Democratic reform. The government claims the lampposts are only meant to collect data on traffic, weather and air quality.

People wielding bamboo poles and baseball bats fought officers armed with batons in the streets. The chaos unfolded near a shopping mall and police station as specialized riot units were deployed to calm the crowds of about100 people.

Once authorities deployed tear gas, the crowd retreated further down the road, though some of the people on the front-line were equipped with helmets and gas masks. Many tried dosing the canisters of the deterrent with water.

A protest march earlier in the day at Kowloon Bay, across the harbor from Hong Kong Island, featured pro-democracy messages.

The crowds of demonstrators have been relatively peaceful, after an escalating last week when Hong Kong’s airport was shut down, canceling hundreds of flights. Protesters first began over a now-suspended extradition bill that would have allowed people from Hong Kong to be sent to mainland China to stand trial. The city is semiautonomous from the Chinese government.

Tensions in the region follow a worsening U.S.-China trade war as President Trump announced he would raise tariffs on the country to 30 percent starting Oct. 1. His decision was in response to Beijing announcing its own import duty hike on U.S. goods starting next week.

The president joins six other world leaders with a plan to discuss the global economy at the G-7 summit over the weekend. Protesters peppered the French countryside in smaller numbers than expected ahead of the world leaders' arrival.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.