Over 1,000 cans of tear gas fired, 400 arrested: police

August 06, 2019 11:03
Police maintain that the level of force they used during clearance operations was appropriate. Photo: Reuters

More than 1,000 canisters of tear gas have been fired at protesters over the past few weeks, and at least 420 people have been arrested for law-breaking acts.

The figures, provided by the Hong Kong Police Force at a press conference on Monday afternoon, covered the period between June 9, when the first massive demonstration against the government's proposed changes to the extradition laws was staged, and Aug. 4, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Besides tear gas, 160 rounds of rubber bullets and 150 sponge grenades had also been fired with the aim to disperse protesters during the period, the police said as it maintained that the level of force used was appropriate.

The figures have gone up since Monday, when police fired more tear gas and arrested dozens of protesters while a general strike was being staged across the city.

Acting Chief Superintendent Yolanda Yu Hoi-kwan of the Police Public Relations Branch (PPRB) told media that the 420 people who had been arrested as of Sunday included 374 men and 73 women, aged 14 to 76.

They will face charges that include unlawful assembly, rioting, assaulting police officers and possession of offensive weapons.

Meanwhile, a total of 139 police officers had sustained injuries during the clashes seen in the past two months, with two of them remaining hospitalized, data provided by the police showed.

In response to accusations that officers fired tear gas near residential areas, Kong Wing-cheung, a senior superintendent of the PPRB, explained they had no choice but to do so, insisting officers had been extremely restrained before taking actions.

If protesters use a certain level of violence against officers, then they will use the appropriate level of force, Kong said, adding that officers only intended to use the minimum level of force to control disturbances or disorder.

As for the brutal attacks on passengers at the Yuen Long MTR Station on July 21, Kong revealed that police have made 23 arrests so far, adding that the force took the incident very seriously.

Kong also noted that police are aware that some netizens have called for violent acts, including murdering officers, on online platforms. He urged the public not to support or promote such comments.

The senior superintendent also offered an apology to media on behalf of frontline officers, saying they have been under great stress and might have not responded to journalists properly.

Police have decided to brief media about the latest developments pertaining to the ongoing social unrest and the actions they have taken at 4 p.m. every day.

Meanwhile, 13 people who were arrested in Saturday's demonstration in Yau Tsim Mong District appeared in the Kowloon City Magistrates' Court on Monday. 

All of them, aged 15 to 36, were released on bail of between HK$1,000 and HK$2,000 each and were ordered to observe a curfew before they come back for a hearing scheduled for Sept. 30.

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