HONG KONG – Protesters began to apologize on Wednesday for causing disruption at Hong Kong Airport, as fallout from scenes of violence and chaos there, along with a court ban, threatened to eliminate the transport hub as one of their most effective locations for demonstrations .
Protests led to the airport, one of the world's busiest, canceling check-ins for two consecutive days this week, causing hundreds of flight cancellations and striking a symbol of Hong Kong's efficiency and financial prominence.
The airport said on Wednesday that at 2 pm it began to restrict terminal access to ticket passengers and airport workers.
But ugly scenes developed on Tuesday, as a few were crushed between protesters and travelers, who were blocked for the first time from the departure gates. In the evening, with tensions rising, surrounded, banded and beaten some men from the mainland of China – one of them suspected to be a security officer, while the other turned out to be a reporter for a newspaper owned by the Communist Party.  Riot police briefly entered the airport's front doors, and one pulled but did not fire his gun after shuffling protesters.
On Wednesday, protesters seemed well aware of the negative picture they presented. "We apologize for our behavior but we are just too scared," read a post on a message channel used by protesters, which got wider distribution on other social media. “Our police shot us, the government betrayed us, social institutions failed us. Please help us. "
" Accept our sincere apologies to all travelers, press reporters, healthcare professionals, "read another post." We will learn from our mistakes. Please give us a second chance to prove ourselves that we can get better. " The protest – which began over a now interrupted plan to allow extractions to China, but has grown to include calls for more direct elections and investigations into the police's use of force – has largely been leaderless. up to two million people, according to organizers, and thousands have continued to participate in demonstrations almost daily.
No single vote speaks for all participants, some embrace violence, while others say confrontation is needed as the government has ignored the peaceful protesters' calls So far, protesters have received comprehensive messages of solidarity, despite various beliefs about the best strategies.  The violence at the airport quickly gained prominent coverage in China's mainstream media in the mainland, which after first ignoring the protests has been loaded with harsh criticism and misinformation about them.
"What a pity for Hong Kong," People's Daily, the ruling communist party's main mouthpiece, said in a message on social media.
A quote from the reporter that was hit "I support Hong Kong police," became a top trend on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform. The reporter, Fu Guohao, is doing well and was not seriously injured, said Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, the nationalist tabloid who employs him.
"It is a great shame for the protesters to deal with a reporter like this," Sa Hu said in a message. "This shows that they have lost their rationality. Hatred has confused their thoughts."
A spokesman for Hong Kong and The Macau Affairs Office, the Chinese authority that manages the two cities, condemned airport violence in a statement on Wednesday, calling it "behavior close to terrorism."
Some protesters said the police's latest tactics, including undercover officers who apparently dressed as protesters to seize, had contributed to a sense of fear Video clips from a recently arrested officer showed, one in the black T-shirt and yellow helmet usually worn by protesters, grinding a protesting bloody face in the sidewalk.
"We hope that everyone, including travelers in and out of Hong Kong, would also understand the stress, panic, suspicion, restlessness that been involved in the crowd at the airport ever since the Hong Kong police force's recognition of having masked a certain number of officers as protesters in order to get them arrested, "Claudia Mo, a pro-democracy legislator, said at a news conference on Wednesday.
The Hong Kong Airport Authority said it had received an interim injunction to prevent interference with airport operations. It was not clear what immediate effect, if any, the injunction would have on the protests. Similar orders were used to allow workers, under the supervision of police and guardians, to dismantle protesters' camps during the major pro-democracy demonstrations that swept Hong Kong in 2014.
On Wednesday morning, a few dozen protesters remained in the airport, sitting in an area designated for protests. Parts of the Arrivals Hall were still covered with posters with their messages, which in recent days have focused on complaints about the police's use of force.
"We are not rebellious, we just love HK too much," read one sign.