At least 49 people have been arrested after a pro-democracy rally led to violent clashes between demonstrators and the police in Central and Western District on Sunday, with the protesters facing charges that include unauthorized assembly and possession of offensive weapons.
In a press release issued Monday morning at around 5 am, the police severely condemned “the illegal acts by a group of radical protestors who vandalized numerous government property, setting fires, attacking officers with various lethal weapons during protests in Sai Ying Pun and Sheung Wan.”
“The radical protestors’ acts were getting increasingly violent. They escalated from removing railings, hurling metal poles and bricks to extensive arson and destruction,” police said, reiterating the law enforcement force’s “determination and capability to bring offenders to justice.”
According to the Hospital Authority (HA), the violent incident saw 16 people being sent to Queen Mary Hospital for treatment as of 12:30 am on Monday.
Of the injured, four were later discharged while the others who remained hospitalized were all in stable condition, the authority said.
Last week, police issued a letter of no objection to a rally scheduled for Sunday afternoon at Chater Garden in Central but banned the ensuing march, as the organizers planned to mobilize participants to walk from the garden to the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park in Sai Ying Pun.
The protest action was aimed at seeking police accountability for firing rubber bullets at protesters without warnings during a clearance operation in Sheung Wan on July 21.
Police said in the press release that at around 3:30 pm “a large group of protestors proceeded eastward and westward”, about half an hour after the rally started, “blocking carriageways in Sai Ying Pun and Causeway Bay respectively, causing traffic obstruction in a number of areas on Hong Kong Island.”
According to the statement, some protesters later hurled objects such as eggs at the police and pushed the defense line to a more forward position. To prevent the situation from deteriorating, police said they began dispersing the protesters at around 7 pm, firing tear gas.
As night fell, radical protestors and the police had confrontations with each other on streets in Connaught Road Central and West and on Des Voeux Road Central and West.
Protesters used objects such as street signs and umbrellas and also deployed miscellaneous objects such as iron fences, garbage bins, bamboo poles for making their defense barricade.
During the chaos, protesters responded to police with bricks, eggs and sling shots, as well as home-made gas canisters and paint balls, Reuters reported.
Protesters began to disperse at around 11 pm, when the police kicked off the second round of dispersal. Most of the demonstrators left by taking trains at Sheung Wan Station.
In a statement issued in the wee hours of Monday, a government spokesman slammed radical protesters for “hurling bricks at police officers, committing arson and even pushing towards the police cordon line a cart with burning cardboards, threatening the safety of police officers and members of the public”, in parts of Sheung Wan and Western District, where the central government’s Liaison Office is located.
Strongly condemning such “radical protesters who disregarded the law and order and violently breached the public peace”, the government said it “will continue to give full support to the police to strictly enforce the law to stop all violent behaviours with a view to resuming public order as soon as possible.”
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