Hong Kong police have arrested five security guards on suspicion of obstruction after they tried to block officers from entering a Ma On Shan mall.
On Monday, riot police attempted to enter the MOSTown mall near the Ma On Shan MTR station following a protest inside.
Security guards sought to block the door, but the police forcefully entered. A guard was pushed aside and his walkie talkie fell to the ground. A reporter was also pushed to the floor.
The incident took place during multi-district protests as the city simmered from a weekend of unrest over an emergency anti-mask law.
Police said on Tuesday that officers had to go through the mall to reach places trashed by protesters.
“Our colleagues have explained multiple times that they had to go inside the mall to handle crimes, but [guards] refused. Our colleagues had to push through the door,” said Police Public Relations Branch Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung.
On Wednesday, RTHK and Now TV cited sources as saying that three male and two female guards were arrested on suspicion of obstructing police. They were detained at Ma On Shan police station.
Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung said police cannot enter any private place without knowing the identity of the person they wish to arrest, citing a 1984 legal case.
Citing another 2005 case, Yeung – a barrister – said it would not constitute obstruction of police if someone was trying to clarify or reason with the police about making a mistake, among other reasons.
“I don’t know if the police know of their limitations in enforcing the law,” Yeung said. “Please read the cases carefully before making arrests.”
Following the arrest, Ma On Shan residents called for a protest at the mall on Wednesday night.
In a statement, the mall said it was aware of a potential large-scale public event, and decided to close at 7pm.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused,” the mall said.
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