Hong Kong police have arrested a street performer for “public disorder” while he was performing a protest-related song, after the musician allegedly ignored warnings over noise complaints.
Busker Oliver Ma, 22, known for his performances of the unofficial anthem of the 2019 anti-extradition bill protests Glory to Hong Kong, was picked up by police in Central last Friday evening. The performer said he was singing songs that “had nothing to do with politics” when some officers “arbitrarily arrested” him.
“I was minding my own business busking to my first crowd in seven to nine months. My first, second and third songs had nothing to do with politics whatsoever when the cops decided to target, harass & arbitrarily arrest me again,” Ma wrote on Instagram last Saturday.
According to videos posted by Ma, he was surrounded by three uniformed police outside a face mask shop on Queen’s Road Central. The clips showed officers asking Ma to “stop his behaviour” and attempting to stop him singing the English version of Glory to Hong Kong.
“Mr, this is your second warning. Stop your behaviour, you are breaching the law,” an officer warned him.
The busker did not respond to police warnings and kept singing the protest song, until an officer appeared to turn off his speaker. Police later started packing up Ma’s belongings, the videos showed.
Police also told Ma’s audience not to congregate, citing the Covid-19 public gathering restrictions. “We will give him a ticket, please don’t disturb our work,” an officer told one woman.
Another woman told police: “Don’t obliterate Hongkongers’ right to listen [to music]. You really took away our freedom.”
Ma was seen being escorted by two officers, while the other one held what appeared to be his guitar case.
In response to HKFP’s enquiries, police on Monday said they received a report at around 10 pm last Friday of a man creating noise in Central. Ma was “uncooperative” when officers arrived and the 22-year-old was detained after he ignored multiple warnings.
Ma is accused of “disorder in a public place” and was released on bail. He must report back to police in mid-June. Police also confiscated Ma’s busking equipment, including a guitar, microphone stand and speaker.
“I don’t know how long they [equipment] will be kept from me, but I cannot wait another few months and not busk to make my living,” Ma told HKFP.
The pro-democracy busker was arrested twice last year on noise grounds and for alleged criminal intimidation following an argument with a woman over noise. He was eventually charged with violating the Covid-19 mask-wearing rule and noise nuisance but was acquitted of the latter in February.