Riot police dispersed dozens of anti-government protesters who had gathered at a Yuen Long mall to mark one year since a mob of white-shirted men stormed through the MTR station there, beating people with canes and rods in an attack that shocked the city, RTHK reports.
At least one person was taken away for allegedly violating the new national security law, and many others accused of breaching the government ban on public gatherings of more than four people were given penalty tickets.
Dozens of protesters wearing black gathered at the Yoho mall at around 6:00pm, chanting slogans insulting the police, calling on the force to disband, and advocating Hong Kong independence.
Security guards from the mall stood by, holding up signs asking people to keep their distance from one another to comply with the government ban on public gatherings of any more than four people.
Riot police rushed in a short time after, cordoning off the area where the protesters were gathered, to conduct identity checks.
Many shops then pulled down their shutters, as officers marched through the mall warning people that they may be taking part in an illegal assembly, and that anyone in a group of more than four people are in breach of the gathering ban.
They then dispersed the crowd.
Kwai Tsing district councillor Rayman Chow was taken away by officers for allegedly violating the national security law.
He was said to have held up a placard of popular protest slogans, including “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times”.
The force said in a social media post that a man was taken away for investigation, but did not specify if he was arrested.
People at the mall that RTHK spoke to weren’t happy with the police action.
An IT worker who gave his name as Au Yeung said he found it ironic for the police to respond so quickly to a small group of people chanting, when it took 39 minutes for officers to respond to calls for help during the July 21 attack.
Dora, who said she was out shopping, said she thought the police had overreacted.
“I don’t think shouting any slogan is illegal and I think actually the police are quite irritating because they actually are stopping us from shopping”, she said.
While critics have heavily criticised the police for its slow response to the attack last year, the force has strenuously denied any claims of wrongdoing.
The Independent Police Complaints Council had also concluded in its report that there was no evidence the force had colluded with the white-clad men, or let them off lightly.
Thirty-seven people have so far been arrested in connection with last year’s attack, with seven of them charged with rioting or conspiring with an intent to wound.
Police say they're still investigating the case.