Riot officer disarms public with his arresting charm - RTHK
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Riot officer disarms public with his arresting charm

2019-11-19 HKT 18:32
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  • Riot officer disarms public with his arresting charm
Candice Wong reports
People on the streets of Central on Tuesday were given a glimpse of a different side to the heavily armed riot police who are now a common sight across Hong Kong, with officers opening up to passers-by and explaining how they see the ongoing unrest.

One particularly chatty officer was laughing and joking with people in English – while also remembering to keep an eye on the crowds, with a lunchtime protest happening just nearby.

The conversation started flowing when one member of the public asked the officer where he got his British accent from.

"So whereabouts are you from?" a woman asked the masked officer on Pedder Street.

"Take a wild guess, take a wild guess", he replied, hinting it was somewhere in the south of England. "I'm not a cockney though," he joked, trying to imitate the London twang.

"I was brought up in the UK, but of course I'm born in Hong Kong," he said, before going on to explain why he became a police officer.

"[I thought] hang on a minute, I need to do something for my motherland. I need to do something for my society. That is why I took up to be a policeman."

Asked about how he feels after more than five months of protests and violence in Hong Kong, the officer said he would compare the city to the troubles in Northern Ireland.

"I've been to Northern Ireland before and I know what's going on up there. And now, look at me. Most of my colleagues are quite tense right? ... But I'm not tense at all."

He told the curious onlookers that the role of the police is simply to try to get crowds of protesters to disperse peacefully.

"That's it, that's what we're doing. But look at all the [street] corners around here. Everyone is not leaving. Everyone is shouting. We are here to maintain law and order. But what's going on?"

"The most important thing is, we care about you guys. As in, we are concerned about everyone's safety. We don't want anyone to get hurt. That's why we are here. In case something stupid happens, that's why we have to get involved."

The officer also told the small crowd gathered around him that he has personally become a "victim" during the current unrest and has been threatened when going to and from work.

But just at the point when an RTHK reporter asked for more details on this abuse, it was time for the riot squad to depart, with the lunchtime over and no rowdy hecklers to deal with this time.

Other officers on duty in Central had also taken the opportunity to speak to members of the public, and their common message was that the police and the Hong Kong people are not enemies.