Chief Executive Carrie Lam has likened protesters in Sha Tin on Sunday night to rioters when they attacked police officers "wilfully” as she thanked and expressed support for the police for maintaining order.
Lam was speaking on Monday afternoon after visiting injured officers at a hospital in Tai Po.
"Officers were very professional and very restrained, but were met with rioters – I really think they can be described as 'rioters' – and attacked wilfully," Lam said.
She said that time and again, during or after peaceful rallies, “people with ulterior motives” had resorted to violence against the police, and that acts had “dealt a direct blow to the rule of law” of Hong Kong.
Lam also dismissed suggestions that some officers had let out their emotions on ordinary people and journalists, saying the force has been acting in accordance with its professionalism, code of conduct and guidelines.
She said anybody, including journalists, can file complaints to the Independent Police Complaints Council if they think they’ve encountered any “inappropriate or unreasonable” behaviour on the part of the officers.
Lam stressed that she had already halted work in relation to the extradition bill, and had responded to protesters’ “relevant or irrelevant demands” last week.
Protesters insisted she has failed to meet all their demands, among them the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, the setting up an independent inquiry into the clashes of June 12 and not to prosecute those involved.
“I know I may not be able to satisfy them, but the matter does not only concern myself, and we had to take into consideration various factors,” she said.
She reiterated she will continue to be “open and humble” in listening to different views from the community.
The Secretary for Security, John Lee, meanwhile, said violent protesters are “becoming more and more organised”, and some of them were “beating up officers like crazy” during the clashes.
He said people should not try to rationalise any violence, because it would be detrimental to society.