Hong Kong police said to be from the national security unit cordoned off a clothing store which carried pro-democracy messages and items on Thursday, just two days after the premises had opened for business.

The Chickeeduck branch in Tsuen Wan was closed down by police on Thursday afternoon. A staff member told HKFP that the owner, Herbert Chow, was questioned by officers inside the store.

Chickeeduck shop in Tsuen Wan cordoned off by police on May 6, 2021. Photo: Chickeeduck, via Facebook.

Customers had their ID cards checked and recorded by the police and were asked to leave, the staff member said. According to a livestream, at least two dozen police were present.

The branch had opened on Tuesday, and featured products related to the anti-extradition bill protests in 2019. It had a two-metre-tall Lady Liberty Statue on display.

The storefront also featured graffiti of the protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” which is considered by the government to be illegal under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Chow told reporters that national security police entered the store with a warrant issued by a court. He said they warned him not to sell or display any products that violate the security law, but refused to tell him whether any of his products had in fact breached the law.

Chow vowed not to close the store and slammed the police for their “outrageous” move. “Hong Kong has no rule of law now: so many police officers coming here just to search a small shop.”

Lady Liberty

The retail chain was told to remove a similar Lady Liberty statue from its store at D Park in Tsuen Wan by the mall’s management last June. Its lease was eventually terminated by the mall owned by New World Development, which voiced support for police and the city’s leader during the protests and unrest in 2019.

Herbert Chow, owner of Chickeeduck, outside the Tsuen Wan branch after police search on May 6, 2021. Photo: Michael Ho/Studio Incendo.

In June 2020, Beijing inserted national security legislation directly into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – bypassing the local legislature – following a year of pro-democracy protests and unrest. It criminalised subversion, secession, foreign interference and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to public transport and other infrastructure.

The move gave police sweeping new powers, alarming democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China.

HKFP has reached out to the police for comment.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.