Two undercover police officers were apprehended by other officers at a protest on Thursday. The pair were released after they revealed their true identities.

Protesters roamed the Tai Po Mega Mall during the afternoon, chanting slogans such as “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” “disband the police force now,” and “see you at Victoria Park on January 1” referring to next week’s annual new year pro-democracy march.

At around 2:30pm, demonstrators disrupted a restaurant which they accused of being pro-government. Masked, plainclothes police officers then arrived with batons and dispersed the protesters, who then fled from the mall.

plainclothes police officer Tai Po
A plainclothes police officer subduing another plainclothes officer in Tai Po on December 26.

Riot police then arrived to apprehend the protesters. However, one undercover officer wearing a blue shirt and a black backpack was pushed against a wall by a fellow, masked undercover officer and riot police. Meanwhile, a second undercover officer wearing a black cloth to cover his face was also tackled by riot police.

plainclothes police officer Tai Po
A plainclothes police officer being subdued in Tai Po on December 26.

Someone on the scene shouted: “Hey, fuck you, we are on the same team!” before the two undercover officers were released.

The police had deployed officers masquerading as protesters several times during the ongoing protests. More than 6,000 people have been arrested during the past six months, including some by undercover police.

Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung said the police should explain the incident.

plainclothes police officer Tai Po
A plainclothes police officer being subdued in Tai Po on December 26.

“There are two possibilities: It was either that the police have been abusing their power and making arrests at will, or the plainclothes officers committed unlawful acts and were caught by riot police,” he told Apple Daily.

He said it was wrong for the police to send undercover officers to protests.

“It will raise suspicion and cause confrontations – now they subdue their own people too,” he said.

Police Public Relations Branch Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung said the incident was only a misunderstanding and it was quickly resolved: We will always try our best not to wrongly target our own officers. But as you [can] see, in a lot of situations, it’s very chaotic,” he said during a Friday press conference.

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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.