Nearly 30 brawlers held in free-for-all

Top News | Cindy Wan 17 Sep 2019

Nearly 30 people allegedly involved in fights between fugitive bill protesters and white-clad men - suspected to be Fujian gangsters - in North Point and Fortress Hill on Sunday.

Officers arrested 24 men and five women, including a man who allegedly attacked protesters with a folding chair and two men who are said to have punched reporters.

A young man suspected of assaulting police to help others escape was also detained.

Police also defended themselves against accusations of selective enforcement after officers were allegedly seen allowing a man - believed to belong to the Fujian camp - to cover his face with a riot shield in North Point.

It was also alleged that police only targeted young people who wore black and ignored rod-wielding middle-aged men who spoke a Hokkien dialect.

Speaking in a news conference yesterday, John Tse Chun-chung, chief superintendent of the Police Public Relations Branch, said it is not true that only young people were being arrested.

Officers at the scene might not have been able to understand the whole situation immediately after arriving as the "violent people might have hidden among the crowd," he said.

"I hope people can understand that the officers could not see [everything that was happening at the time] as clearly as they [later] saw them through the news cameras."

Li Kwai-wah, senior superintendent of the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau, said he does not want to label the arrested suspects according to their places of birth, "though seven of them are Fujians." He added: "We haven't stopped investigating."

Jim Ng Lok-chun, senior superintendent of the operations branch of Hong Kong Island, explained the use of the shield to protect an arrested man's identity, saying the man did not want to show his face to the camera.

But lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said: "If they can borrow a shield today, are you gonna give them a helmet tomorrow? Have the police gone crazy?"

Lam added that the people in blue and white shirts were holding buckets filled with kerosene and had knives but police only jotted down their ID numbers.

He also slammed the force for arresting lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung, who was mediating a brawl in North Point.

Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said it was the "selective enforcement of police that prompted protesters to use violence against other people."

More minor scuffles and brawls occurred at Lennon walls in different districts on Sunday, including one in which a 64-year-old man had his face sprayed with black paint in Fan Ling. In another, a 54-year-old woman was kicked in the back after an argument with a man in Wong Tai Sin.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association said police did not stop men holding weapons from beating reporters and instead helped block cameras.

It criticized the malicious attacks against journalists and urged police to be fair during enforcement.

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