12 hours of Mong Kok clashes: A timeline

February 11, 2016 17:41
Protesters (R) were seen throwing bricks at police officers in the Mong Kok clashes Monday night. Meanwhile, some police officers were also caught responding in a similar fashion. Photo: AP

As Hong Kong grapples with the fallout of Monday's clashes between police and protesters over the issue of street hawkers, Initium Media has laid out the chain of events on that fateful "Mong Kok night".

According to the report,here's what happened on Feb. 8 and the following day.

February 8

12:30 pm: Localist group Hong Kong Indigenous called on its supporters, via a Facebook post, to gather at Portland Street at 9 pm to stand in solidarity with mobile food stall operators.

9:40 pm: Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) staff stopped mobile food stall operators from conducting their business, and subsequently clashed with supporters of the hawkers.

10 pm: FEHD staff called the police, who arrived at 11 pm, according to Radio-Television Hong Kong (RTHK). Hong Kong Indigenous announced online that the FEHD staff have retreated to Nathan Road, and that the food stalls were back in business on Portland Street with only a handful of police officers at the scene.

11:10 pm: According to hk01.com, Hong Kong Indigenous members stopped cars from entering Portland Street from Shan Tung Street. The police set up a mobile command platform, and the force's Tactical Units and plainclothes detectives started to disperse the gathering crowds with batons.

11:30 pm: As reported by Apple Daily and RTHK, police displayed a red flag warning that violence would be used if protesters continue charging police lines. Protesters threw objects at police, while the latter unleashed pepper spray and batons. Passers-by put out a fire from a charcoal stove that fell off from a street food stall.

February 9

12:20 am: Police officers equipped with helmets and batons formed layers of human chains to prevent protesters charging. The two sides stood off at the junction of Portland Street and Shan Tung Street.

12:27 am: Hong Kong Indigenous announced on Facebook that Edward Leung Tin-kei, who will be a candidate in an upcoming LegCo by-election, used his campaign authority to call for a rally at the Mong Kok Night Market. The demonstration reportedly had fewer than 30 people, so police approval was not required. The group, meanwhile, urged people to join them at Mong Kok, bringing along goggles, masks, water and protective clothes.

1:15 am: Initium Media reporters who arrived at the scene noticed that over ten food stalls were able to operate their businesses on a section of Portland Street adjoining Argyle Street. Meanwhile, protesters and the police were engaged in a standoff on Shan Tung Street.

1:35 am: As reported by Apple Daily, InmediaHK and Initium Media, the police displayed a red flag again and deployed long shields, requesting protesters to leave in the direction of Argyle Street in seven minutes.

Fifteen minutes after the red flag was raised, fierce clashes broke out between the police and the protesters, with the latter throwing objects and the former firing pepper spray. The police warned protesters not to spray Kerosene on the floor. Most of the protesters retreated toward Argyle Street by this time.

2 am: According to video footage of Initium Media and Cable TV News, around ten police officers were surrounded by several dozen protesters on Argyle Street. Objects such as rubbish bins and wooden pallets were thrown at the police officers, who retreated while firing back with pepper spray and batons. A police officer tumbled after tripping on an object on the floor.

2:03 am: Initium Media reporters saw a police officer firing two warning gun shots into the air and later pointing his gun at protesters, who then started backtracking.

2:30 am: According to Cable TV News and RTHK, protesters occupied a section of Nathan Road between Argyle Street and Grand Plaza and some members started setting objects on fire, generating large amount of smoke. Clashes between police and protesters continued.

3 am: Hong Kong Indigenous announced that its 25-year-old spokesperson Edward Leung, who is a philosophy student at the University of Hong Kong and a candidate in the upcoming Legislative Council New Territories East by-election, was arrested by police.

According to RTHK, protesters were seen throwing rubbish bins at police officers on Nathan Road. Some demonstrators sustained injuries to their heads after being struck by police batons. Police locked up the area, barring citizens from going onto the vehicular access.

3:40 am: Protesters started throwing bricks and glass bottles at police, who tried to disperse the crowds using shields and batons, as well as pepper spray.

3:45 am: A Ming Pao Daily reporter was pressed onto the floor by police officer and punched and kicked multiple times despite wearing a reporter’s badge and identifying himself as a reporter. The reporter required stitches to his wound on the back of his head.

(Ming Pao reporter)

4 am: The clashes shifted to Sai Yeung Choi Street South near Shan Tung Street. Some protesters removed bricks from the pavement and threw them at police. Some removed roadside railings to charge police lines. Some police officers were seen picking up bricks on the floor and throwing them back at the protesters.

Protesters were also seen setting objects like plastic bags, foam packaging materials and carton boxes on Sai Yeung Choi Street South on fire so as to create road blocks.

The Fire Services Department said it had received 22 reports of fire alarms by midnight.

4:30 am: According to TVB News, one of its photojournalists was hit by a glass bottle by a protester and injured his hand. An RTHK reporter was also being attacked by a protester with a brick almost at the same time. A portable audio recorder of the reporter was said to have been damaged.

5 am: According to Cable TV News, a police car was surrounded by protesters at the junction of Nathan Road and Soy Street, with protesters hitting car windows with bricks. Meanwhile, fierce clashes were ongoing at Sai Yeung Choi Street South.

5:15 am: MTR Corporation closed off the Mong Kok commuter rail station.

6 am: The police sent a Special Tactical Squad to ensure a lockdown on Dundas Street. The police also fired pepper water spray at protesters, who were throwing bricks at the police. Police arrested people from the dispersing crowds.

7 am: Protesters retreated to the junction of Fa Yuen Street and Soy Street as they came under pressure from oncoming police officers. Meanwhile, Cable TV News caught someone directing the protestors with the help of a long pole. Some of the protesters started burning rubbish bins at Sai Yee Street after around 30 minutes. Some protesters were seen throwing smoke grenades at police.

7:54 a.m: Hong Kong Indigenous posted a new Facebook message asking all supporters to evacuate, noting that safety comes first. Around the same time, a large number of anti-riot police officers were deployed to Mong Kok, while another Special Tactical Squad was dispatched to Argyle Street to disperse protesters along Sai Yee Street. Protesters left Mong Kok by 8 am.

9:46 am: MTR Mong Kok station reopens.

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A police officer fires two warning shots into the air and later pointed his gun at the protesters. Photo: hk01.com
Police raised the red flag against the protestors. Photo: Bloomberg
A protester is seen holding a lit-up pole and targeting the police. Photo: Bloomberg
A Cable TV journalist was injured in the clashes. MTR Corp. closed off the Mong Kok rail station at around 5 am before reopening it more than four hours later. Photo: RTHK