Civic Square standoff

Top News | Sum Lok-kei 2 Jan 2018

Two people were sent to hospital yesterday after hundreds of protesters, some of whom denounced the co-location plan at West Kowloon, gathered in Civic Square following a 28-month lockdown.

It was the first public gathering in the square since its December 28 reopening. The hundreds in the square were part of thousands who joined the march that started in Causeway Bay and was organized by the Civic Human Rights Front.

More than 10 pro-democracy groups and the camp's co-location concern group joined the march, as well as four disqualified lawmakers and Occupy movement leader Benny Tai Yiu-ting.

Organizers said 10,000 joined the march, while police said the turnout was 6,000.

A spokesman said last night that the government "fully respects the right of people to take part in processions and their freedom of expression."

He said the co-location arrangement has a sound legal basis and that Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has already responded comprehensively to questions regarding it.

The marchers protested seven social issues, including the co-location arrangement, the recent amendments to the Legislative Council's rules of procedure and the potential enactment of Basic Law Article 23.

The first group of marchers left Causeway Bay at 2.30pm and arrived at the Central Government Offices in Admiralty at 4pm.

While the organizer urged protesters to gather outside the square, hundreds surged in.

A People Power member tried to enter the center podium of the square, where the SAR and mainland flags fly, but was stopped by security guards.

Tam Tak-chi, another People Power member, was barred from entering the area with its gates chained.

Another protester who tried to cross the chains was stopped by guards, leading to some pushing and shoving. Ambulances later took away a male demonstrator and a security guard.

Two men were also arrested after they allegedly damaged People Power's protest banners.

At 5.20pm, protesters mounted the previously locked-down area of the square, while staff from the government's Administrative Wing urged protesters to disperse.

When the gathering outside the square ended at 6.30pm, about 100 protesters remained inside the square.

lok.sum@singtaonewscorp.com

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