In a televised address broadcast as marchers in masks again took to the streets in defiance of her newly instituted ban on face coverings at rallies, a solemn Carrie Lam described Hong Kong as "semi-paralyzed" and in the grips of "unprecedented violence".
Police fired volleys of tear gas to disperse protesters in flashpoint districts such as Causeway Bay, Sha Tin and Wong Tai Sin, underscoring the challenges they face as protests show no sign of letting up.
"So far we've seen assaults and silencing of people", said Kevin Huang, a local community organizer, when reflecting on the demonstrations in Hong Kong.
While the increased vandalism has shocked many in a city unused to such scenes, many more moderate activists say they still have sympathy for those using violence.
Friday's protests across the Chinese-ruled city erupted hours after its embattled leader, Carrie Lam, invoked colonial-era emergency powers last used more than 50 years ago to ban face masks, which demonstrators use to hide their identities.
Protesters in masks popped up in the central business district Saturday afternoon, carrying a yellow banner marked "Glory to Hong Kong" and shouting, "Hong Kong, resist!" "For the sake of our freedom, there's nothing we're afraid of". "We as the older ones should be ashamed of ourselves for not protecting our rights a long time ago, and we should be embarrassed if we don't come out to fight for the future of the young".
"The government will not make any concessions", he told AFP.
Mo, former deputy police commissioner of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), said such a move by the HKSAR government is necessary, adding that the goal of the violent protesters in Hong Kong is to confront police, not to protest in peace, and these people would have been arrested if they were in New York.
The increasingly violent demonstrations that have roiled the city for four months began in opposition to a bill that would have allowed people to be extradited to mainland China for trial.
Patricia Anyeung, who described herself as a wealthy retiree with a United Kingdom passport, said she may leave if Hong Kong's freedom is extinguished.
Critics said Lam's move was a major step towards authoritarianism for Hong Kong, which has been governed by China under a "one country, two systems" framework since British colonial rule ended in 1997. Umbrellas are a symbol of an earlier pro-democracy movement, but were being used on Sunday simply to keep off the rain.
The ban turned the wearing of masks into an act of rebellion for many protesters.
The embattled leader has said the ban on masks, which allows radical protesters to hide their identity, was needed to stop widespread violence that "semi-paralysed" the city.
The current "precarious situation", which endangered public safety, left no timely solution but the anti-mask law, Matthew Cheung, Hong Kong's chief secretary, wrote on his blog on October 6.
MTR (Mass Transit Railway), the rail operator, said it was unable to resume normal services as repairs were still being made at damaged stations.
Hong Kong may have lost as much as $4 billion in deposits to rival financial hub Singapore from June through August, Goldman Sachs estimated this week.
A last customer leaves as an employee pulls down the shutters at 5 p.m.at a convenience store normally open 24 hours a day in Hong Kong on Saturday.
Many restaurants and small businesses have had to repeatedly shut with the protests taking a growing toll on Hong Kong's economy as it faces its first recession in a decade.
"We will do our best to fight whether it is in court, whether it is in [the Legislative Council] or whether it is out there with the Hong Kong people", he added, referring to the city's lawmaking body.
Wu was quoted as urging the Hong Kong government and Chinese authorities to face Hong Kongers' demands and return to rational communications.