Hong Kong social workers have said that they were inexplicably mistreated by riot police at a protest on Thursday night.

A crowd had gathered at Prince Edward MTR station to mark an incident two months ago whereby officers used pepper spray and batons against protesters inside train carriages. The demonstration soon turned into a confrontation outside Mong Kok’s police station – a key battleground in the summer’s protests.

Key Luk – a social worker – said he was beaten by police when he was trying to protect an elderly woman. He addressed the media whilst wearing a bloodstained jacket at a press conference on Friday.

【1031太子示威】【2155】警方在旺角康民角採取驅散行動時,突然衝前,並不斷使用警棍擊打在場人士。期間,有社工被打中頭部,流血受傷。陳虹秀要求警員交待襲擊社工的原因時,警員向其面部施放胡椒噴霧。記者:譚希琳 葉希雯編輯:丘庭亮http://bnn.jour.hkbu.edu.hk#廣播新聞網 #BNN # #五大訴求 #萬聖節

Posted by 廣播新聞網 Broadcast News Network on Thursday, 31 October 2019

Luk said they were at Civic Triangle, a sitting-out area outside Mong Kok police station, where there were no confrontations. He said he saw officers grabbing the woman as they moved in.

“When I said ‘don’t hurt the grandma,’ I felt objects hitting my back. I don’t know if they were batons or shields,” he said.

Another officer in front of him used a hard object to push him down until he sat on a chair, he said, before he found his head was bleeding.

“I asked the officers: ‘I am a social worker, I did not do anything illegal, I did not charge at you, why did you hit me?’,” he said.


Posted by Shiu Ka Chun on Thursday, 31 October 2019

He said he could not identify the officers because he did not see their identification numbers.

He had two major injuries and received five stitches for a wound measuring around seven centimetres: “I often dreamed of a time that Hong Kong police would stand with residents, to protect us instead of harming us,” he said as he became emotional.

Key Luk bleeding after being hit with objects. Photo: inmediahk.net.

Another social worker, Jackie Chen, protested against the police treatment of Key, but an officer fired pepper spray at her at close range.

Chen said at the Friday press conference that she often appeared at protest frontlines urging officers not to use tear gas against reporters and residents without protective gear.

“We want to rest too. Why do we have to come out? It is a silly question. Because the Hong Kong government did not listen to residents’ demands and allowed police to treat residents violently,” she said.

Chen said the police chief should stop sending “mentally unstable” officers to work on the frontlines. “This would already help a lot,” she said.

Jackie Chen after being pepper-sprayed. Photo: inmediahk.net.

Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent John Tse said that people must leave when police are conducting a dispersal operation.

He said officers had difficulties in distinguishing social workers from other people under chaotic situations, and those who remain on the scene are responsible for their own safety: “We do not intend to target people of a certain profession,” Tse said.

John Tse. File Photo: inmediahk.net.

He said some people who claimed to be social workers had tried to obstruct officers from enforcing the law.

According to the police, 249 people were arrested this week, aged between 13 and 61 years old. They included a man who sold weapons including a retractable baton and taser online after an undercover agent successfully made a purchase.

Police used 144 tear gas canisters, 33 rubber bullets, eight bean bag rounds, five sponge grenades during the week.

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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.