Lam vows action against 'violent and lawless' protesters

July 02, 2019 14:48
Several hundred protesters flooded into the Legco complex on Monday night and went on a rampage. Photo: HKEJ

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor lashed out at the demonstrators who stormed into the Legislative Council complex and ran amok inside the premises for a few hours on Monday night.

At a press conference held at 4 am Tuesday, Lam condemned the protesters for being “violent and lawless”, saying their actions angered and saddened her as they undermined the rule of law.

Those guilty of illegal acts will be held accountable, Hong Kong's top leader added.

The events at Legco need to be seriously condemned “because nothing is more important than the rule of law in Hong Kong”, Lam said.

Declaring an amnesty for protesters, as many groups have demanded, would not be in accordance with the rule of law, RTHK quoted Lam as saying.

Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu noted at the media session that the protesters who stormed the Legco building might have violated the Public Order Ordinance, the Crimes Ordinance and the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance.

Before the annual July 1 march began on Monday afternoon, nearly 2,000 demonstrators gathered outside the Legco building at around 1:30 pm, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Some radicals, who were highly dissatisfied with the government’s failure to respond to their demands over the issues surrounding the extradition bill, used a iron cage cart to ram the building’s entrance on Tim Mei Avenue and hard objects to bang on several glass walls.

Police who were inside the Legco building raised a red flag of alert several times and used pepper spray on the protesters through cracked holes on the glass walls, but the protesters kept storming the building before they successfully caused a crack on a piece of glass wall sometime after 4 pm, and then broke another glass wall soon after.

“Hong Kong is a society that respects the rule of law, and has never tolerated violence. Protesters who resort to violence must stop their acts immediately," a government spokesman said in a statement Monday evening, adding that the police “will take appropriate enforcement action to protect public order and safety. “

The protesters’ continued efforts ended up enabling them to break open the entrance door before 9 pm, when several hundred demonstrators flooded into to the Legco building. The large number of anti-riot police officers who were standing by did not make any move to stop them when the crowd of protesters flooded in.

After entering the Legco building, the demonstrators began a vandalizing spree on multiple floors, with exhibits and electric appliances, as well as the pictures of the current and some past Legco chiefs being seriously damaged.

They also spray-painted various words in Chinese on the walls behind the seat of the Legco president, including “Carrie Lam step down”, “release the arrested protesters” and “withdraw the extradition bill”.

At 10:30 pm, the police issued a statement condemning the storming of the Legco and warned that it would take dispersal action.

Sometime after midnight, the protesters finally left the Legco building.

Anti-riot officers and members of the Special Tactical Squad began to disperse the demonstrators outside the Legco building starting midnight, using tear gas against them and setting up metal fences at the intersection of Tim Mei Avenue and Harcourt Road.

The dispersing action resulted in clashes and did not end until around 1:30 am Tuesday, when all of the demonstrators left the scene.

According to Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung, a total of 13 police officers were taken to hospital on Monday. Some of the officers had been splashed with an unknown liquid by the protesters, he said.

The non-official members of the Executive Council also strongly condemned protesters who violently stormed the Legco complex. In a joint statement, the members affirmed “their support for the Police in taking the offenders to task and bringing them to justice to safeguard public order”.

Among others, 42 pro-establishment lawmakers said in a joint statement that the “extremely radical and violent protesters” had disturbed public order and challenged Hong Kong's rule of law.

In the statement, the lawmakers urged pan-democratic legislators to join in the condemnation of the protesters’ behavior.

The lawmakers urged all “peace-loving people” in Hong Kong to distance themselves from violent protesters “if they believe in Hong Kong's core values,” RTHK reported.

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Chief Executive Carrie Lam condemned the storming of Legco by protesters and vowed to hold the guilty to account. Photo: Reuters