Nearly 150 arrests tied to widespread siege

Top News | Cindy Wan and Stella Wong 7 Aug 2019

Nearly 150 people were arrested in relation to Monday's clashes, including a 13-year-old girl, while more than 800 tear gas canisters were fired to disperse protesters in various districts.

In a press conference yesterday, Police Public Relations Branch senior superintendent Kong Wing-cheung said 21 police stations suspended emergency services for periods of time due to besieging action by protesters.

The peaceful assemblies descended into violent clashes in various districts, including Wong Tai Sin, Tin Shui Wai, Tsim Sha Tsui and Sham Shui Po, where officers were attacked with bricks and other hard objects, he said.

Ninety five men and 53 women - aged between 13 and 63 - were arrested for taking part in an unlawful assembly, assaulting officers, obstructing police in the execution of their lawful duties and possessing offensive weapons.

At least two of them were apprehended for damaging traffic lights, Kong said.

Police launched over 800 tear gas canisters and 20 sponge grenades and fired 140 rubber bullets in densely populated areas to disperse the protesters since their level of violence escalated quickly, he said.

"Officers didn't want to use tear gas in these locations. The [protest areas] were not chosen by us, but the protesters," he said. "Police had no other choice. [The use of tear gas] was the result of the violent clashes by the rioters."

Seven officers sustained injuries, including one who suffered an injury to the mouth after being struck by a steel bead shot launched from a catapult.

Police also deployed a new armored carrier - Unimog U5000 - to clear obstacles and roadblocks in Mong Kok, Kong said.

He said people do not need to be overly concerned as the vehicle is for defense purposes only. The carrier will also be deployed to transport officers, gear, and even patients during massive public activities in the future, he said.

Police showed a video of black-clad protesters destroying cars, assaulting pedestrians and setting up roadblocks on major roads and harbor crossings.

Tse Chun-chung, chief superintendent of the Police Public Relations Branch, condemned the protesters for "taking justice into their own hands" and criticizing those who hold different opinions.

"Do the public want to tolerate and promote such violence?" he asked.

But questions were raised about whether officers are capable of protecting people following attacks launched by residents in North Point and Tsuen Wan on Monday.

Kong said police received a report about white-clad men attacking people in North Point at around 7pm, but officers only arrived at the scene at 11pm.

He said the North Point police station was besieged by protesters and called on people to understand their difficulties.

In Tsuen Wan, he said police arrived 15 minutes after receiving two reports about fighting.

As for the incident that a journalism student sustained head injuries after being hit by a tear gas and a reporter was held briefly, Tse said they will deploy more officers from the the media liaison cadre to assist reporters in future.

Before the press conference, reporters knocked their helmets in protest of frontline officers' hostile attitude.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association issued a statement to condemn police for arbitrarily arresting the reporter and demanded that Chief Executive Carrie Lam intervene by setting up an independent commission.

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