A frightful night

Top News | Angel Kwan and Sophie Hui 1 Nov 2019

The whole Lan Kwai Fong was locked down early on Halloween night with hundreds of riot police sent to the area - and bringing woes to bars and restaurants hoping for a bonanza from the popular festival.

At about 8.30pm, police announced that the popular nightspot area had been closed "as there are other public activities happening" and asked people to leave.

But they refused to budge and police raised the blue warning flag several times calling on protesters to disperse and saying they were participating in an unlawful assembly.

At 10pm, police fired tear gas in Central near The Landmark. At 9.30pm riot police used pepper spray on a crowd of 100 after a female American, dressed as a clown, used an umbrella to poke an officer who fought back resulting in scramble at Queen's Road Central near Wyndham Street next to Lan Kwai Fong.

Security measures were already tightened in the entertainment area and Central earlier in the day with dozens of riot police standing by and water barriers set up along D'Aguilar Street and Lan Kwai Fong.

The Central MTR station was closed at 9pm.

Crowds started gathering on streets to Lan Kwai Fong at about 7.30pm with many covering their faces with masks depicting government officials to "celebrate" Halloween with others.

But at about 7.50pm, riot police set up a defense line at the intersection of Wellington Street and D'Aguilar Street.

People were not allowed to enter or leave Lan Kwai Fong through the junction.

The owner of a bar in D'Aguilar Street said the number of customers had dropped 80 percent but he did not see any need for closing the area.

"What's the problem here Now maybe we can just all go home and sleep?"

A man who sells decorative accessories said he sold less than last year. "Usually it would be pretty crowded starting from 5pm as people would come down to celebrate after work but it is much less crowded this year."

A bartender said the number of customers was three times less than last year.

She said the bar was usually full before 6pm but last night it only had one table of six occupied at about 8pm. "It's not like Halloween," she said.

Despite the anti-mask law, people wore masks of officials' faces - including Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor - to mark the occasion. A protester who wore a mask of John Tse Chun-chung, chief superintendent of the Police Public Relations Branch, said he was not afraid of a potential legal threat.

"I'm just coming down to have fun at Halloween, how would it [the mask] be unlawful?" he said.

A woman in a cosplay of Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said she was worried about safety as LKF has very narrow streets.

"[I cosplayed Lee] because his face is so hateful and scary, so it suits this festival a lot," she said.

Meanwhile, more than 100 people gathered in Victoria Park at 7pm after netizens called for a march against the anti-mask law.

They left the Causeway Bay park at about 8pm but were stopped by police on Great George Street where they raised the blue warning flag.

The MTR also closed Prince Edward station at 2pm but more than 100 protesters gathered there station in the evening to mark the two-month anniversary of violence at the station.

Protesters blocked a section of Nathan Road and Prince Edward Road West. They also set a fire at Exit C2 of Prince Edward station.

Mong Kok station was closed at about 8.15pm and police fired tear gas in Nathan Road near Soy Street at 9.05pm.

Protesters were dispersed after police fired the first round of tear gas at 7.10pm, but they soon regrouped and police fired another round of tear gas.

Earlier in the day, police released a comic book about what happened on August 31, saying wise ones would not believe rumors about people having died in Prince Edward station.

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