Middle-aged men attack protesters in Fortress Hill, North Point

September 16, 2019 15:32
Brawls broke out between rival groups in North Point and Fortress Hill on Sunday night. Photo: HKEJ

Running battles between anti-government protesters and police led to street brawls between rival groups in Fortress Hill and North Point on Sunday night.

While police were busy dispersing protesters in Causeway Bay, Wan Chai and Admiralty, another group of black-clad activists started to occupy King's Road in the eastern part of Hong Kong Island around 7:30 p.m., the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Police arrived about half an hour later. Amid the standoff, a group of middle-aged men, some wearing white shirts, showed up and attacked the protesters with long sticks and foldable stools.

Some of the protesters fled to the Fortress Hill MTR Station, but a number of the middle-aged men pursued them while chanting, “Fujian people, beat cockroaches!" referring to protesters, and "Support Hong Kong police!”

The situation resulted in brawls between the protesters and the middle-aged men. There were injuries on both sides.

Several journalists covering the incident were also caught up in the chaos.

According to i-Cable News, three of its reporters suffered injuries. An Apple Daily reporter said she was struck in the hand by a man who she said wanted to snatch her phone away. She suffered a minor hand injury, RTHK reported.

Another journalist said he was kicked in the thigh by a man who had confronted him and demanded that he stop filming what was happening, the broadcaster said.

A Reuters witness saw one man in a white T-shirt sprawled on the ground with head wounds.

Another man held a folding stool and threatened to strike journalists with it, but police officers pulled him away.

A volunteer paramedic said he was hit in the head by a hard object as he was pursued by white-clad men.

Later in the night, police tried to separate the rival groups and set up a defense line on Chun Yeung Street, but the brawls went on.

At around 11 p.m., police raised the black warning flag and fired multiple canisters of tear gas to disperse the crowd on King's Road in North Point.

Officers arrested three people, including a young man dressed in black, RTHK reported.

Police were also seen taking away several men and women from an office run by a pro-Beijing association in the area, Reuters reported.

Rival groups

Brawls between groups of people with different political views also broke out in other places on Hong Kong Island on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, a middle-aged man in blue shirt was attacked by several black-clad individuals in Wan Chai.

The man, 49, reportedly confronted the protesters, who then ganged up on him. The man later appeared to have lost consciousness as he was carried to an ambulance.

His condition changed from critical to serious as of Sunday night, the Hospital Authority said.

In related news, Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung was arrested in North Point on Sunday night for allegedly obstructing police.

Hui was trying to mediate between the police and the protesters, according to his party's Facebook page.

At least 28 people were injured in clashes across several districts on Hong Kong Island on Sunday, the Hospital Authority said.

Two men were in serious condition while nine men were stable. Thirteen men and four women had been discharged.

Violence condemned

Meanwhile, police condemned the unlawful assemblies in various districts on Hong Kong Island on Sunday.

"[The protesters] blocked roads illegally, hurled petrol bombs at the Central Government Offices and police officers, set fire at multiple locations, attacked others and reporters," a government press release said.

Despite police objection, a large number of people staged protests in Admiralty, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay in the afternoon, consequently blocking roads and paralyzing traffic.

Later, some protesters set fire to miscellaneous objects outside MTR Admiralty and Wan Chai stations and broke the glass of Admiralty Centre with iron poles and hard objects, the government said.

They also used slingshots to hurl bricks and miscellaneous objects towards the Central Government Offices, while others hurled petrol bombs.

Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, 40mm react rounds and water cannons to disperse the crowds.

Meanwhile, MTR Corp. condemned the arson attacks on the Wan Chai and Causeway Bay train stations as well as the "malicious vandalism" which severely damaged facilities at Tin Hau and Admiralty stations.

"The recurrence of violence and malicious vandalism at MTR stations not only severely impacted on passengers’ journeys but also endangered the safety of passengers and MTR staff," the rail operator said in a statement.

As of 10 p.m. Sunday, Admiralty, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay stations remained temporarily closed.

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