A student leader from the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) said on Wednesday that he was considering suing the police for his “unreasonable” arrest, after officers arrested him for the second time in one month.
Keith Fong was arrested for theft in the early hours of Tuesday, but was unconditionally released the next day. Fong said at a press conference that he was trying to return lost property to a schoolmate, whom he had already contacted and arranged to meet.
Fong was detained after police cleared protesters from Mong Kok, and officers found another student’s wallet on him. Fong was accompanied at the time by Vincent Ng, the external vice-president of the HKUST student union.
“They have no evidence to prosecute me and they released me unconditionally. I think I will not trust Hong Kong police anymore because they treat us as rioters or enemies,” Fong said.
Officers had initially promised not to arrest him, he added, but they went back on their promise after consulting their superiors. Fong told reporters that his latest arrest “is very likely due to a personal grievance.”
At their press briefing, police said that they offered Fong an opportunity to explain but he did not — a claim that the student leader on Wednesday rejected as absurd. Shortly after Fong’s arrest on Tuesday, the HKBU Student Union issued a statement clarifying the ownership of the wallet and supporting Fong’s version of events.
On August 6, Fong was arrested in Sham Shui Po after officers saw him purchase 10 laser pointers. Officers said they found Fong “acting suspiciously” and arrested him for possession of offensive weapons.
The incident led to a public outcry, and police subsequently described the laser pointers as “laser guns.” Fong was released unconditionally two days later his arrest.
Arrests continue for activists
Separately, another student leader Leung Yiu-ting from the Education University of Hong Kong was also arrested last Saturday as riot police stormed the Prince Edward MTR station following a day of unauthorised protests.
Leung told reporters that he saw police use excessive force, and that police used pepper spray against defenceless civilians despite them “crying out for mercy.”
Leung was arrested at the station for unlawful assembly, despite not being a protester and wearing a suit. He was later released unconditionally.
“The officers didn’t try to distinguish between ordinary citizens and protesters… it was a mass arrest,” he told the press.
Hong Kong law enforcement has conducted a round-up of many pro-democracy activists and lawmakers in the city, including Demosisto’s Joshua Wong and his colleague Agnes Chow. Over the space of 36 hours last week, police also arrested lawmakers Jeremy Tam, Au Nok-hin, Cheng Chung-tai, as well as activists Andy Chan and Althea Suen.
Many of those figures participated in different protests since June, sparked by Hong Kong’s now-withdrawn extradition bill, which would have allowed case-by-case fugitive transfers to China. The demonstrations have evolved into sometimes violent displays of dissent over Beijing’s encroachment, democracy, alleged police brutality, surveillance and other community grievances.
Police arrested Demosisto chairman Ivan Lam on Tuesday morning as he got off his flight back to Hong Kong. In his absence last Friday, he was handed charges in relation to unlawful assembly similar to his Demosisto colleagues.
Lam was granted bail after his first court appearance on the same day.
Also on Tuesday, police arrested protest organiser Michael Mo in relation to an “unlawful assembly” that took place in the Yuen Long district on July 27.
Mo, along with another activist Max Chung, were the ones who applied for police approval of a “Reclaim Yuen Long” protest march on July 27. Police ultimately denied permission for the march, but thousands still turned up to express their anger over a mob attack.
Before that, Mo also organised a “Reclaim Tuen Mun” demonstration on July 6.
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