Siege of major university in Hong Kong continues for seventh day

Pro-democracy protests continue in Hong Kong

Hong Kong – The siege of a major university in Hong Kong is now in its seventh day. Police on Saturday surrounded a small number of anti-government protesters holed up inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University, but say they won't try to storm the campus again, following violence last weekend. 

The standoff persists on the eve of local elections – the first public elections since the pro-democracy movement began, CBS News' Ramy Inocencio reports.

It's estimated only about 50 protesters are still barricaded inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University. About 1,000 protesters have been arrested or ID'd in the past week. Hong Kong's police chief is now calling for a peaceful end, telling them to think of their families.

At the start of the week, police fired nearly 1,500 tear gas canisters, and anti-government protesters responded with firebombs for offense and barricades for defense. 

Now the university is a near ghost-town, with its undefended road blocks and unlit Molotov cocktails. Some said that despite desperation and depression, they're not leaving. 

"So I will be here with my fellow protesters 'til the very last minute, 'til the very last minute," said one protester.

The few people left are hiding in a maze of buildings and rooms across campus. 

Hong Kong Protests
A protester stands inside the campus of Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. Most of the protesters who took over the university last week have left, but an unknown number have remained inside for days, hoping somehow to avoid arrest. Achmad Ibrahim/AP

With the protest movement now in its sixth month, U.S. university programs in Hong Kong have sent dozens of their students packing. 

"I think what really scared me was when the protests started reaching university campuses," said 19-year old Anushka Srivastava, who got on a flight Saturday after her program linked to the University of Southern California canceled physical classes for online courses. She said her safety was a growing concern.

"There's tear gas, right, like I think 100 to 200 meters from my dorm," she said. "So just, you know, being in that intense environment makes me scared, and that has been affecting my education to some degree as well." 

This past week, Georgetown and Syracuse University also canceled their programs in Hong Kong as the protest takes its toll on the city and its people.   

On Saturday, dozens of families in Hong Kong marched against the government's handling of pro-democracy protests, The Associated Press reported. Police have reportedly fired over 9,000 rounds of tear gas since the June start of protests in the Chinese territory.

On Sunday, people go to the polls in local elections. It'll be a referendum on both the government and the protest movement, and it's expected that democratic candidates will win in a landslide.