Police on high alert before July 1 protest

Top News | Michael Shum 30 Jun 2020

There's an online campaign for people to march from Victoria Park to the central government offices tomorrow - the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's handover - despite police banning two protests earlier in the week.

The force is on high alert and prepared to deploy 3,000 to 4,000 officers citywide "in preparation for a potential crisis."

Police banned applications for two July 1 marches earlier, citing social distancing regulations. One was organized by Eastern District councillor Andy Chui Chi-kin and the other by the Civil Human Rights Front.

The social-distancing regulation that prohibits gatherings has been extended from June 18 until Thursday, although it had been relaxed to allow gatherings of no more than 50 people to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The Civil Human Rights Front said it will not withdraw its earlier calls for people to march tomorrow and that it will file an appeal.

Police said although all July 1 rallies and marches have been banned, calls have been made online for people to take to the streets to demonstrate tomorrow.

"Police still consider July 1 a challenge and therefore are going to deploy 3,000 to 4,000 officers citywide on that day, mobilize six regional response contingents and put all riot police on standby," a source said.

Sources also said police will pay close attention to developments online as the national security law is expected to pass today and that they will react quickly should anything happen.

Meanwhile, Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki called on the government to cancel the gathering ban outdoors.

"The current social gathering ban is not based on science," Kwok said. "The government is not restricting the number of people in a restaurant, but barring gatherings with 50 or more people outdoors."

He added: "The government should stop suppressing anti-national security law protests and other demonstrations in the name of fighting the pandemic."

In Wan Chai and Admiralty, police have closed roads near the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Legislative Council complex and the government headquarters, while police patrol the vicinity.

The flag-raising ceremony at Golden Bauhinia Square will be held as usual this year after the ceremony last year was held indoors amid anti-fugitive bill protests.

The ceremony will be followed by a celebration officiated by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor at the Hong Kong Cultural and Exhibition Centre. The Legislative Council complex, which was severely vandalized last year, will be closed tomorrow.


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