Police deployed tear gas to clear streets in Yuen Long on Monday after an hours-long stand off with local residents who were marking the three-month anniversary of violent attack on passengers at the town's MTR Station.
Officers fired multiple rounds of tear gas in Kuk Ting Street, Tai Tong Road and near residential buildings in Hong Lok Road at about 9.30pm after a stand-off with angry residents. Many in the crowd had berated the police for their failure to prevent the attacks by a white-clad, armed mob on July 21.
Tensions had been rising through the evening after a black-clad group that had been planning a sit-in at the station for 7pm changed their plans and began to build barricades in Castle Peak Road. The station and the adjacent Yoho shopping mall were closed early because of the threatened sit-in.
While the group in black moved on when riot police arrived soon afterwards, many residents in plain clothes gathered to confront the police. Some accused officers of blocking the roads, while others questioned the response to the July 21 attacks.
Castle Peak Road, Kuk Ting Street and Tai Tong Road were all blocked at various points in the evening. Police issued a red warning flag, indicating the use of force if people did not stop charging, about 10 minutes before using the tear gas.
The force later said in a social media post that the tear gas was used after "rioters" threw unspecified hard objects at the police. It urged people to avoid the area, and local residents to keep their windows closed and stay indoors.
At least two young people were seen to have been taken away by police following a series of confrontations as clashes continued into the night.
Shortly before midnight, there were reports of a petrol bomb being thrown close to a light-rail station.
One of the protesters, a secondary school pupil, said he simply couldn't accept a call last week from Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung for people to "move on" from the July 21 attack and wait for a report from the Independent Police Complaints Council.
"We can't forget this, because I think that this is so horrible to all Hong Kong people and this should not be move on from until the criminals are caught and in the jails," the pupil said.
An aviation industry worker said she'd travelled from her home in Kowloon to join the protest.
She noted the while Chief Executive Carrie Lam quickly apologised to the Muslim community after the Kowloon Mosque was hit with dyed water from a water cannon on Sunday, there'd been no apology for the Yuen Long attacks, which involved people rather than a building.
People in several other districts also staged rallies to commemorate the attack in July.
About 100 people held a sit-in and chanted slogans at Tuen Mun MTR Station, and some others at Tai Koo and Tseung Kwan O stations demanded the MTR release surveillance camera footage of the attack three months ago.
At least 45 people needed hospital treatment after the July 21 attack, when scores of men wearing white T-shirts rampaged through Yuen Long Station, indiscriminately hitting passengers with sticks and poles.
The police later admitted that it took them almost 40 minutes to send officers into the station that night, despite the 999 service being swamped with frantic calls for assistance.
Last updated: 2019-10-22 HKT 01:07