Police arrested one person on suspicion of assaulting officers during a second siege by anti-extradition law protesters upon the force’s headquarters on Thursday. Sixty other people had their ID numbers recorded.
Thousands flooded into Arsenal Street on Wednesday night in response to a spontaneous call from activists Baggio Leung, Tony Chung and Joe Yeung to surround the city’s police base in Wan Chai.
The scenes were a repeat of last Friday, when crowds blocked major roads in a display of public anger against a controversial extradition bill, dwindling political freedoms and alleged police brutality.
Demonstrators on Thursday – mostly young people clad in all-black and face masks – were demanding that the embattled police force release arrested protesters. They also called for an investigation into a police clearance operation on June 12, which saw tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bag rounds used against activists.
Protesters built barricades around entrances to the police base, scrawled graffiti on the walls and covered CCTV cameras around the perimeter. By around 4am on Thursday, most had dispersed as police emerged from the building to clear the surrounding roads.
Localist activist Yeung was arrested in the early hours, according to the Students Independence Union.
The union said that Yeung had been receiving legal aid and was being treated in hospital. He had also reportedly told a lawmaker over the phone that he was safe and apologised to protesters from the night before.
Meanwhile, Secretary for Security John Lee said protesters causing damage to police headquarters “crossed the boundary of freedom of expression.”
“The police’s clearance action was restrained and appropriate,” Lee told reporters on Thursday at the police base. “I thank the police for fulfilling their duties at difficult times. I urge residents not to direct their anger at the police.”
Plainclothed police officer
At around 11.30pm on Wednesday, a male police officer dressed in plain clothes was seen sprinting through the crowd of protesters while wielding a windshield wiper. In widely circulated clips, he was seen cornered by protesters at the top of an escalator near an entrance.
In social media posts on Thursday, the police said it refuted claims the officer was disguised as a protester, tried to open a gate using a hoe, and was inciting protesters to charge.
The statement added that the officer was on his way to work at the station when a number of protesters obstructed his path, causing him to pick up a traffic cone and windshield wiper for self-defence purposes.
“Police emphasises that the officer has neither disguised as a protestor nor made any incitement,” a Facebook statement read. “Police [express its] utmost regret over the intentional spread of rumours and castigates the rumourmongers.”
The protest took place after a separate mass rally organised by the pro-democracy Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), which urged G20 countries to raise concerns about Hong Kong at the leaders’ summit in Japan on Friday.
Hong Kong has been rocked by a series of demonstrations in recent weeks over legal amendments proposed in February, which would enable the chief executive and local courts to handle case-by-case fugitive transfer requests from jurisdictions with no prior agreements, most notably China. Critics have raised concerns over the risk of residents being extradited to the mainland, which lacks human rights protections.
The bill was suspended on June 15, though protesters have called for its complete withdrawal. Chief Executive Carrie Lam has not been seen in public since June 18.
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