About 400 arrested during New Year's Day march - RTHK
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About 400 arrested during New Year's Day march

2020-01-02 HKT 00:36
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  • Shortly after 8 pm on Wednesday riot officers cornered a large group of people on Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay and ordered journalists to back off. Photo: RTHK
    Shortly after 8 pm on Wednesday riot officers cornered a large group of people on Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay and ordered journalists to back off. Photo: RTHK
The police on Wednesday said they had arrested around 400 people after the massive New Year's Day anti-government rally saw clashes between police and hardcore protesters.

The arrests were made over offences including unlawful assembly and possession of offensive weapons, senior superintendent Ng Lok-chun said at a late-night press conference.

Most of the arrests were made on Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay, near the SOGO department store.

Senior Superintendent Ng acknowledged that innocent bystanders might have been among those detained.

"You have to understand that when we stopped a few hundred people, of course there is a possibility that some of them are not involved. So, it would take time for the police to investigate, to make enquiries," he said. "If we know that they're not involved, for sure we will release them unconditionally."

He also defended the police decision to cut short the rally, less than three hours after it began on Wednesday.

"If we continue to let the procession go on, we cannot ensure the public order and public safety of those participating in this procession," he said.

Black-clad protesters broke off from the main group of marchers and attacked banks and ATM machines along the protest route. They also smashed traffic lights, ripped bricks from pavements and barricaded roads.

Senior Superintendent Ng told reporters that “rioters” hijacked the protest march and at one point endangered police officers by surrounding and throwing objects at them, which led to police ordering the rally to be called off at 6:15 pm.

Organisers say more than a million people participated in the rally, while the police put the turnout at 60,000 at the march's peak.