Junior officers make push to use real bullets on molotov throwers

Top News | Cindy Wan 17 Sep 2019

Cops should be allowed to use real bullets to stop protesters throwing molotov cocktails, says the Junior Police Officers' Association.

This comes after two traffic officers drew their guns on Gloucester Road in Wan Chai on Sunday when attacked by some 20 protesters throwing petrol bombs at close range.

"Whenever a rioter prepares to throw a petrol bomb, officers could treat it as a deadly attack targeted at themselves or others and use proportional force or weapons - including real ammunition - to stop it," chairman Lam Chi-wai said yesterday.

The association also called on its members to use "reasonable and appropriate force decisively" in the event of a life-threatening situation.

As for scuffles between the pro-Beijing camp and the protesters, Lam condemned the "rioters" for attacking those with different opinions and destroying their properties.

In response, a spokesman from the Civil Rights Observer said Lam's remarks would mislead officers into believing that the force has changed the rules on the use of lethal weapons.

At present, officers could only consider using real bullets when there is no lower force possible to stop a life-threatening situation.

He appealed to both sides to act in a restrained manner as "a life lost on either side would escalate the tension and potentially lead to a humanitarian crisis."

John Tse Chun-chung, chief superintendent of the Police Public Relations Branch, said the two traffic officers were "brave and restrained" and it was necessary and reasonable to draw their guns.

Tse said it is worrying that the violence has gone out of control at the weekend as protesters blocked traffic, burned national flags and destroyed MTR stations and public facilities.

"The mob also attacked innocent citizens who shared different views, including a middle-aged man who was beaten by umbrellas" on Gloucester Road in Wan Chai at around 4pm on Sunday, he said.

The man, 49, remained in serious condition yesterday at Ruttonjee Hospital.

Protesters threw some 80 molotov cocktails, while police responded with 32 tear gas grenades, 11 rubber bullets and 12 sponge grenades on Sunday.

Forty-eight men and seven women aged 13 to 67 were arrested.

Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung wrote a letter to all officers, saying the past 100 days would likely become the most unforgettable in his career and leave and an indelible mark in the history of the force.

He told them they are not alone on this difficult road and that management will take all possible measures to back them up, including their family members.

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