The Hong Kong Bar Association has condemned the excessive and disproportionate use of force by the police in dealing with the pro-democracy protesters.
“Even though on occasions, a minority of demonstrators became confrontational with the police, the overwhelming majority of the demonstrators were visibly conducting themselves peacefully,” the influential group said in a statement.
Similar condemnations of the police use of tear gas were issued by the Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Hong Kong Public Doctors’ Association.
Cheung Tak-keung, assistant police commissioner for operations, said the officers used tear gas to keep a distance between the police and the protesters, Ming Pao Daily reported.
Cheung said he believed the protesters were attempting to break through the police lines as they covered their faces with plastic wraps and wore goggles.
According to police figures, a total of 87 rounds of tear gas were fired across nine locations, or 2.5 times the 34 rounds police used against protesting South Korean rice farmers during the World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong in 2005.
When asked if Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was among the decision-makers who authorized the use of tear gas, Cheung said the police commander on the site was responsible for the call.
Cheung did not respond to questions on whether any police officers should step down because of the operation, stressing instead that the public and the police should work together.
So far police have arrested 89 people, aged 16 to 66, on charges of unlawful entry into government buildings, illegal assembly, disrupting public order, and assaulting police officers.
At least 12 police officers have been injured, the report said.
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