Cops vow to track down violent masked lawbreakers

Police have arrested 19 people - mostly in their 20s - and eight officers were injured in a night of violence by more than 300 protesters after Sunday's massive rally against the fugitive law amendment.

Jane Cheung

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Police have arrested 19 people - mostly in their 20s - and eight officers were injured in a night of violence by more than 300 protesters after Sunday's massive rally against the fugitive law amendment.

Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung of the public relations branch said yesterday police condemned the violence and the force would go after protesters. More arrests would be made.

He said eight police officers, aged 22 to 24, were injured by objects thrown or kicked by protesters.

"One of the policemen sustained serious injuries to his eye and had to have 15 stitches," he said.

Senior superintendent Lee Kwai-wah of the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau said 19 people - 17 men and two women aged between 19 and 24 - have been arrested.

Sources said one of the arrested is Wayne Chan Ka-kui, convener of the Students Independence Union.

Lee said most of the arrests were made on Gloucester Road near the former Wan Chai police station, when 358 people - 265 men and 93 women - occupied the road.

"Among the 358 people, 291 of them were between 16 and 25 years old, including 24 under 18," he said.

"After checking their belongings and confirming that they're not wanted persons, we released them but retain the right to pursue."

Lee said police believed the occupation of Gloucester Road was organized and planned by radical and violent protesters.

He said police found five types of equipment in the protesters' belongings, including protective gear and goggles against police action, face masks and spare clothes to hide identities.

"We also found some cans of graffiti spray that we believe could be used to paint public properties, which would constitute criminal damage," he said.

They also found lighters, scissors and knives.

In response to videos that captured white smoke at the protest area outside the Legislative Council building, prompting some citizens to believe police used tear gas against protesters, Kong said no tear gas was used.

"We don't know where the smoke came from, but we believe it did not come from our officers," he said.

Early yesterday, Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung condemned the violence and said the force would do everything to track down the masked lawbreakers. "Without any reason, they tried to break into Legco," he said.

"Such actions were not an expression of opinion. They violated the tradition of holding rational and peaceful protests in the SAR.

"Why did they wear masks? It's because they don't want to be identified after they've broken the law," he said. "But I can tell you, we'll go back and watch videos, including those taken by the press, and track down every one of them."

At about midnight masked protesters ripped metal fences outside the Legislative Council Complex and threw objects including metallic rods at police officers.

Officers used pepper spray as protesters retreated to Tim Mei Avenue and Lung Wo Road, leaving ripped out fencing and rubbish bins to block the road.

During the clash a police officer was injured. He sat on the road, his face covered in blood. Some protesters were also injured.

Police repeatedly warned protesters it was an illegal assembly and ordered them to leave.

At 1am police sent in reinforcements, armed with shields and wearing helmets, while protesters barricaded traffic lanes on Lung Wo Road with metal fences and stacked bags of rubbish in the tunnel on the road.

At 1.15am, police began clearing the site and protesters retreated along Gloucester Road.

The confrontation continued on Gloucester Road as hundreds of protesters set up fences, rubbish bins and water-filled barriers to block the road. At 2.40am police cornered more than 350 protesters outside the former Wan Chai police station.

All had their names taken and were released - except for one who had no identity card with him. Roads were reopened at 3am.

jane.cheung@singtaonewscorp.com