27 January 2020
Protesters and residents of a Wong Tai Sin neighborhood clash with police on Saturday night. Photo: Bloomberg
Protesters and residents of a Wong Tai Sin neighborhood clash with police on Saturday night. Photo: Bloomberg

Police arrest 29 protesters in Yau Tsim Mong clashes

A total of 29 people, aged between 15 and 45, were arrested after an anti-extradition bill rally led to violent clashes between demonstrators and police in Yau Tsim Mong District on Saturday.

The 24 men and five women will face charges that include unlawful assembly, failing to produce proof of identity, obstructing police in execution of duties and possession of offensive weapons, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The cases of 13 of those arrested were mentioned at the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Courts on Monday afternoon.

The government said in a statement issued on Sunday morning that the police “strongly condemned the radical protesters”, saying that resolute enforcement actions “will be taken against all illegal and violent acts”, which cannot be tolerated.

On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of thousands of people gathered at Anchor Street Playground in Mong Kok before they marched to Cherry Street Park in Tai Kok Tsui to assail the government’s refusal to meet the people’s demands.

The march was originally banned by police but approved on Friday night after an appeal board overturned the police force’s decision.

Not long after the protesters took to the streets, a large group of protesters deviated from the approved procession route, blocked Nathan Road while marched towards Tsim Sha Tsui.

“When the protesters arrived at Tsim Sha Tsui, they went to Hung Hom via Salisbury Road. They used water barriers, fences and other miscellaneous objects to block both traffic lanes of the toll plaza of Cross-Harbour Tunnel in Hung Hom, leading to complete closure of both ways of the tunnel tubes, causing serious traffic obstruction,” the government said in the statement.

“Some protesters surrounded Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station, vandalizing the facilities outside and setting fire at various locations,” it said.

Protesters threw bricks and other hard objects were thrown at the station, sometimes by using large catapults, the statement said. As a result, more than 20 vehicles inside the compound were damaged.

Other protesters removed a national flag at the Star Ferry Pier and cast it into the sea, it added.

While police were dispersing the crowd, another group of protestors arrived in Wong Tai Sin, surrounded the police station in the district and hurled miscellaneous objects at officers and vehicles.

Later in the night, police entered the Wong Tai Sin MTR Station to chase the demonstrators, but many local residents shouted at the officers and asking them to leave.

Police retreated to the Wong Tai Sin bus terminal and got off police vehicles, only to be surrounded by many protesters, who threw various objects at the officers and the vehicles.

The police then fired tear gas multiple times to disperse the crowd.

The government said some protesters “were suspected to have deliberately damaged the national flag, breaching the National Flag and National Emblem Ordinance”.

“The Government strongly condemns the radical protesters who disregarded the law and order, blatantly breached the public peace, and even challenged the national sovereignty,” it said in a statement.

Senior Superintendent Yolanda Yu Hoi-kwan, of the police’s public relations branch, said the protesters deliberately spread their violent actions from Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok to Kowloon East, RTHK reported.

The police force had exercised restraint despite an escalation of violence by protesters, the broadcaster quoted Yu as saying.

Among those arrested was a Filipino man working at Hong Kong Disneyland as a parade dancer and a South Korean restaurant worker.

The deputy Philippine consul general in Hong Kong said that according to the arrested Filipino, he was only passing by the protest area on his way to buy food when riot policemen, who were chasing protesters, saw him, wrestled him to the ground and arrested him. He was wearing a black shirt

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Protesters occupy a part of Nathan Road in Mong Kok at around 4 p.m. on Saturday. Photo: Bloomberg