Hong Kong police have banned several protest marches scheduled to take place this weekend in Wong Tai Sin, Tai Po, Sham Shui Po and east Hong Kong Island, citing issues of public order and safety.
Protesters will only be allowed to host a static rally in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay on Sunday from 1pm to 5pm, despite the organisers’ original plan to march east to Quarry Bay.
Police have restricted protests for the third consecutive weekend, converting some anti-extradition law marches into stationary rallies and banning other such events altogether.
At a daily press briefing, Senior Superintendent Jim Ng said that many peaceful protests over the past two months devolved into violent clashes, which saw protesters attacking others, blocking roads, damaging property and committing arson.
The Hong Kong Island march was banned because its path would take protesters near “high-risk locations” such as police stations and government offices, Ng said. The police have reason to believe the locations will become targets for attack, he added.
Organisers of the Tai Po march tried to appeal the police decision but was rejected on Friday afternoon. It was despite organisers downgrading their plans to fit police expectations, said one of the organisers Roy Chan.
“Tai Po residents are probably the most peaceful and cooperative,” Chan said. “Our freedom to protest and demonstrate has been completely destroyed.”
Chan said he would cancel the march, but called on Tai Po residents to “do what they should do.”
The two other banned marches were originally planned for Wong Tai Sin on Saturday afternoon, and Sham Shi Po on Sunday afternoon. Both neighbourhoods have been the site of violent clashes over the past weekend.
Asked if police were implementing a blanket ban on all protests, Ng told reporters that there were at least 10 protests that were approved in the past week, and that approval for each protest would be decided on a case-by-case basis. The politics behind each event was not a consideration, Ng added.
Ng also rebutted “online rumours” about the force adopting a new policy of mass arrests for those who attend protests, with charges being meted out for rioting.
Rumoured attack in North Point
Earlier in the day, two vice-convenors of the Civil Human Rights Front met with the police to discuss online rumours about another potential attack against protesters in North Point this Sunday.
“If the police still don’t handle these attacks, how can we ensure citizens’ personal safety? How can the police regain the public’s trust?” said vice-convenor Figo Chan.
Chan said that there have been messages circulating on social media and in chat groups about a repeat of the North Point attack which took place on Monday.
Senior Superintendent Ng told reporters on Friday that police were aware of the situation and will closely monitor it.
For the fifth day in a row, police dodged questions about whether officers used expired tear gas. Ng said that he was not an expert on the topic, and would defer to his colleagues in the Police Public Relations Branch to answer the question. He also declined to offer a deadline for the police to give a definitive response.