Riot police have removed and damaged tributes to a student who died after falling from a car park during a police operation last November.
According to HKBU Student Union Editorial, the police action took place as people attended a monthly memorial gathering at the Sheung Tak car park last Friday at around 11:30 pm. Photos of the aftermath showed posters, origami cranes and colourful post-it notes were strewn across the ground.
Chow fell from the third floor onto the second floor of the car park in Tseung Kwan O, leaving him with severe head injuries during scenes of unrest nearby where police deployed tear gas to disperse protesters. He died after spending four days in hospital in a critical condition. Monthly memorials have been held in his honour since then.
HKFP enquired with the police about the purpose of their operation. The force said that patrol officers proceeded to the second floor to investigate after they saw someone hitting the car park’s fencing with a hard objects: “[Officers] seized bricks and glass bottles and had moved some objects during their search.”
“As they were investigating the bricks and glass bottles, some objects at the scene were moved to check if any illegal items were among them,” the information officer added. “There have been no arrests and officers did not clear any other objects at the scene [on Friday],”
A netizen spotted a notice issued by Wilson Parking last December, operator of Sheung Tak car park, which stated that “due to a special memorial event, Space no. A2045, 47, 49, 51, 53, 55 and 57 on 2/F will be cordoned off.”
Link REIT – the car park’s owners – said that Wilson Parking displayed notices on doors, walls and pillars to notify users about cordoning off some parking spaces until January 14 near the site “in view of the relatively large number of people visiting the site of the memorial event.”
Neither Link REIT nor Wilson Parking had received prior notice from the police regarding the operation last Friday, Link REIT said – “and [we] did not request the police’s assistance on that day.”
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 also have been demanding an independent probe into the police conduct, amnesty for those arrested and a halt to the characterisation of protests as “riots.”
Friday’s incident came two days after a 25 per cent budget boost was announced for the police force.
On Monday, the police said in a statement that recent mistrust of the force was a result of fake news, false information and misunderstandings.