Police fired tear gas and pepper spray during protest clashes in Mong Kok on Saturday, as demonstrators gathered for a monthly commemoration of the Prince Edward MTR station incident. An officer also pointed his pistol at protesters after he was attacked, as the force made 115 arrests.

Photo: Jimmy Lam/United Social Press.

At dusk, hundreds gathered at Prince Edward MTR station exit A, near Mong Kok Police Station, to mark six months since baton-wielding riot police stormed into the station leaving dozens injured.

Photo: Kaiser/United Social Press.

Protesters chanted slogans and laid floral tributes at MTR exits, which were periodically cleared by officers. Police warned those gathered to disperse as they were taking part in an unlawful assembly and were littering, according to RTHK.

Photo: Jimmy Lam/United Social Press.

Several volleys of tear gas were fired as crowds swelled.

The police said in a press release that protesters pointed laser beams, built barricades and set fires on roads at around 6pm outside their station. They also threw petrol bombs at the junction of Nathan Road and Argyle Street at 8:30pm, the police added in a later press release.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The force said that 71 males and 44 females aged 15 to 54 were arrested on suspicion of unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons, assault of police officers, obstruction, theft, or disorderly conduct.

Photo: Benjamin Yuen/United Social Press.

“Police have used minimum necessary force, including tear gas, for dispersal and arrest operation,” said police in the press release.

Photo: Benjamin Yuen/United Social Press.

Later in the evening, a police officer – who appeared to be injured – drew his pistol and pointed it at protesters during a standoff, according to CityU SU Editorial Board.

Photo: CityU SU Editorial Board.

The police statement said a male police officer drew his gun as his life was threatened at the scene where he was assaulted with bricks, stones and bamboo sticks.

Photo: Studio Incendo.

Footage from the clashes also showed that several police officers pepper-sprayed and punched a young male.

And, according to United Social Press, another young male in a red top passed out during his unrest on Argyle Street and was dragged along the ground by riot police officers. He was later put in an ambulance.

Photo: KH/United Social Press.

HKFP has reached out to the police for comment on this injured man.

Photo: Jimmy Lam/United Social Press.

During the evening, an Mong Kok MTR station exit was set alight, causing the station to be closed throughout the evening.

Photo: Chau Ho Man/United Social Press.

Protests erupted last June over a now-axed extradition bill. They have escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour, amid calls for democracy and anger over Beijing’s encroachment.

Demonstrators have been demanding an independent probe into the police conduct, amnesty for those arrested and a halt to the characterisation of protests as “riots.” 

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Saturday’s clashes mark the worst unrest in weeks and come days after police were promised a 25 per cent budget boost.

Photo: Chau Ho Man/United Social Press.

“The medics do not get [such an] allowance,” one protester at the scene told HKFP. “They really save lives, but those police do not save lives.”

Demonstrations have reduced in frequency this year amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

It has been over three weeks since the police last deployed tear gas. On February 8, tear gas was used to disperse a crowd in Tseung Kwan O holding a candle-lit vigil for Alex Chow Tsz-lok, a 21-year-old student who fell from a car park during a nearby police operation and died after four days later last November.

Additional reporting: Tom Grundy.

Correction: 19.10: A previous version of this article incorrectly described the officer’s gun as a revolver owing to an editing error.

Rachel Wong

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.