A Hong Kong District Councillor was formally arrested on Tuesday for disorderly conduct in a public place, apparently in connection with a protest in May against a national security law which Beijing imposed on the city the following month.

Sha Tin District Councillor Raymond Li wrote on his personal Facebook account that police appeared at his home early Tuesday morning but the reason was unclear. At 9 am, his public Facebook page confirmed the arrest.

raymond li causeway bay may 24
Raymond Li arrested near Canal Road Flyover in Causeway Bay on May 24, 2020. Photo: Raymond Li, via Facebook.

“Raymond Li was arrested this morning at his residence. The arrest is believed to be in connection with the Hong Kong island rally on May 24 this year. From our understanding the force arrested him on suspicion of disorder in public places,” it said.

Li was arrested that day under the Canal Road Flyover in Causeway Bay as thousands attended a mass rally against Beijing’s plan to introduce the sweeping security law. It came into force on June 30 to criminalise subversion, secession, terrorist acts and colluding with foreign forces.

After months of sometimes violent pro-democracy protests in 2019, police have rarely approved public demonstrations this year, citing public health concerns owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. The force warned the public ahead of the scheduled rally in May, saying officers would be deployed to take resolute enforcement action.

At least 180 arrests were made, mainly for taking part in an unauthorised assembly, unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct in a public place.

Li was released from the police headquarters in Wan Chai at around 1pm. He was charged with behaving in a noisy or disorderly manner in a public place. The case will be heard next Monday at Eastern Magistrates’ Court.

Photo: Benjamin Yuen, Cezzna, Jimmy Lam/United Social Press.

District councillors at protest scenes are often told by police that they are not immune from arrest even though they display councillors’ IDs and insist they are doing their duty to monitor law enforcement.

District councils are the lowest tier in Hong Kong’s administration. In elections in 2019 pro-democracy candidates achieved a stunning success, taking control of all but one of the councils.

Pro-democracy members last week resigned en masse from the higher-level Legislative Council after four of them were ousted from the legislature following a decision by Beijing.

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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.