Police fired tear gas at demonstrators and residents in Sham Shui Po on Tuesday evening after the arrest of a student leader sparked more protests.
Keith Fong, the president of Baptist University’s student union, was arrested for possession of offensive weapons after he bought ten laser pointers in the district at around 7pm on Tuesday. Five off-duty police officers found the purchase to be suspicious and tried to search him.
According to the student union, Fong was startled after the officers nudged his shoulder and tried to leave. He was reportedly choked by officers and sent to the nearby Caritas Medical Centre after becoming unwell. Baptist University Head Roland Chin has visited Fong at the hospital.
“We believe that the police used excessive force by choking his neck. We strongly condemn it,” the student union’s internal secretary Torres Fong said. “The police were creating white terror by interrogating Fong, who was just buying laser pointers.”
Police Chief Inspector Chow Hok-yin, from the organised crime and triad bureau, said there were different legal interpretations of “offensive weapon.”
“Even if an item is not of an offensive nature but someone has used it to assault, it can still be categorised as an offensive weapon,” he said.
“During recent operations, you can see many people flashing these kinds of laser pointers at officers. Some officers have felt unwell, and some were even injured.”
Chow did not elaborate further on how laser pointers could be used to injure people.
Residents were also on the streets, alongside masked protesters, urging police to leave Sham Shui Po.
Clashes continued past midnight as officers attempted to clear roads. pic.twitter.com/UnVCL2Lk1F
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) August 6, 2019
Following Fong’s arrest, hundreds of protesters and residents surrounded Sham Shui Po’s police station in support of the student leader and in protest of the police.
A large number of protesters spilt over onto nearby roads, occupying them for several hours. Many also flashed laser pointers at the building.
At around 11:20pm, tear gas was used to clear the crowd. Protesters and residents chanted slogans such as “triads” and “black cops” at the police, as locals urged the force to leave the neighbourhood.
Known for its electronics market, Sham Shui Po is a dense, low-rise residential area of Kowloon with a working-class and elderly population.
HKFP noted at least six arrests as police rushed the junction of Apliu Street shortly after midnight, after they warned the crowd they were partaking in an unlawful assembly.
District councillor arrest
Sha Tin District Councillor Wong Hok-lai was among those arrested. He said he was in the district after a Sha Tin resident complained to him that they could not return home.
Wong said he was pushed down by around ten officers, who accused him of assaulting officers and participating in a riot.
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Posted by Stand News 立場新聞 on Tuesday, 6 August 2019
He denied assaulting officers and was later arrested for unlawful assembly.
In a video posted to social media, an officer is seen telling Wong: “You have failed the expectation of residents, you are breaking the law, I am very disappointed, I paid taxes and voted too.”
Meanwhile, another officer said: “Stop putting on a show. District councillors have to abide by laws as well.”
Protesters laid siege to police stations across different districts on Tuesday, Monday, last Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Multiple stations were also surrounded during the city-wide strike action on Monday.
The police have fired around 1,800 tear gas canisters since June, including 800 on Monday. The force admitted that some officers had emotional issues after dealing with the two months of protest.
Tuesday marked the fourth consecutive day of tear gas in Hong Kong, as demonstrations against the government, police and the ill-fated extradition bill continue. At least two more protests are planned for the weekend.