Large crowds took the streets in protest a day after Hong Kong police shot an 18-year-old student in his chest, the first time that officers fired live ammunition at a pro-democracy protester.
Hundreds marched from Chater Garden in Central in protest, chanting slogans such as “Hong Kong police intentionally commit murder” and “disband the police force now.” Sections of Connaught Road Central were briefly occupied by protesters, many of whom were in suits and appeared to be office workers.
As of 3pm, some protesters had gathered at Tamar Park outside government headquarters, while others ended their march at Millenium Plaza in Sheung Wan. Separately, crowds of protesters were also spotted outside the New Town Plaza shopping mall in Sha Tin and Festival Walk in Kowloon Tong.
Students at multiple secondary schools also organised ad hoc class boycotts to express outrage, with a sit-in held at Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College – the school where the shooting victim is a fifth-form student.
Tsang Chi-kin, 18, was shot in Tsuen Wan after a scuffle with an officer on Tuesday afternoon. He was shot in his left lung – three centimetres from his heart – and was in stable condition after surgery.
Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo said that the officer made a split-second decision to fire his weapon out of self-defence, and the move was “reasonable and lawful” as his life was under threat. His comments were echoed by former security chief Lai Tung-kwok in Beijing, who said that the officer acted “in accordance with guidelines” and was “reasonable.”
However, human rights organisations decried the shooting, with Amnesty International calling it an “alarming development.” Local watchdog Civil Rights Observer said the decision to fire live ammunition was “excessive and unnecessary,” given that the officer was believed to be equipped with a shotgun with less-lethal rounds.
“CRO emphasises that the use of force by police must be in accordance with the principle of minimum necessary force and police should take a de-escalating approach to handle the incident,” the group added.
The shooting also drew international attention, with US Senator Bob Menendez calling it a “new low.” UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also called the use of live rounds “disproportionate.”
Hong Kong saw citywide unrest on Tuesday as the People’s Republic of China celebrated its 70th anniversary. The city has seen 17 consecutive weeks of protest sparked by a now-scrapped extradition bill which would have enabled fugitive transfers to China.
Hundreds support charged protesters
Earlier on Wednesday, hundreds gathered outside the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court to support 96 people who were due to appear in court over rioting charges. Over half of the defendants were students, with two of them aged 14, according to RTHK.
They 96 were all arrested on Sunday in the vicinity of Admiralty during the “anti-totalitarianism” march, which descended into clashes between protesters and police. Director of Hong Kong Social Worker’s General Union Hui Lai-ming was among those arrested, and was charged with assaulting a police officer.
A crowd surrounded a police van and spray-painted slogans on it, but later dispersed on their own.
Hong Kong Free Press relies on direct reader support. Help safeguard independent journalism and press freedom as we invest more in freelancers, overtime, safety gear & insurance during this summer’s protests. 10 ways to support us.