21 January 2020
Protesters throw umbrellas at riot police during clashes inside the New Town Plaza in Sha Tin on Sunday night. Photo: Reuters
Protesters throw umbrellas at riot police during clashes inside the New Town Plaza in Sha Tin on Sunday night. Photo: Reuters

Dozens arrested after clashes erupt at Sha Tin mall

At least 40 people were arrested after a march against the extradition bill turned into clashes between police officers and protesters at a shopping mall in Sha Tin.

They were arrested for unlawful assembly and assault on officers, police said.

A government spokesperson condemned the “violent acts”, stressing that the rule of law is a cornerstone of Hong Kong society.

Tens of thousands of people marched from a soccer pitch outside the Che Kung Temple to the center of Sha Tin on Sunday afternoon to demand the complete withdrawal of the government’s now-suspended extradition bill as well as a public inquiry into violent clashes and amnesty for those arrested during recent protests.

About 115,000 people joined the march, according to organizers, while police put the crowd at 28,000 at the peak, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

After the demonstration ended sometime after 4 p.m., several thousands of participants gathered around Yuen Wo Road Sports Center, before police fired pepper spray and scuffles erupted.

Protesters then occupied the intersection of Yuen Wo Road and Sha Tin Rural Committee Road, leading to a standoff with the police.

Demonstrators moved to the New Town Plaza shopping mall after nightfall and continued their fight.

It was not until nearly 9 p.m. that police began their clearance operation, resulting in chaos and clashes.

The shopping mall denied rumors that it had called the police or asked for assistance.

Police issued red and black warning signals before charging into the mall to chase the protesters. Stores immediately closed, as serious clashes between the police and protesters broke out.

The officers used their batons and fired pepper sprays, while demonstrators hurled umbrellas and other objects at the police.

Shortly before 10 p.m., an anti-riot contingent arrived at the scene to assist the other officers, going up the floors of the mall to disperse and subdue the protesters. Some passers-by also sustained injuries during the chaos.

According to RTHK, police used batons to beat their way towards the protesters, who were holding up umbrellas as they were falling back.

Police said at least 10 officers were injured in the unrest. One of them had part of his ring finger bitten off by a protester.

As of 6 a.m. on Monday, 28 people had been admitted for treatment of injuries related to the clashes, the Hospital Authority (HA) said. Of this number, 22 remained in hospital.

Two people were in critical condition while four were serious, the HA said. 

Pro-democracy lawmaker Au Nok Hin from the Council Front slammed police for chasing the protesters out of the mall even after they had fallen back. 

Democratic Party legislator Roy Kwong Chun-yu also questioned whether the police intended to cause a stampede by charging into the mall.

MTR Corp. announced shortly after 10 p.m., while the standoff at the mall was still underway, that trains on the East Rail Line were not stopping at Sha Tin Station until further notice.

Services resumed at 10:30 pm.

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Tens of thousands join anti-extradition march in Sha Tin