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Police defend Ventus Lau arrest, condemn 'rioters'

2020-01-19 HKT 22:15
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  • Police defend Ventus Lau arrest, condemn 'rioters'
Police on Sunday defended the arrest of the main organiser of Sunday’s shortened rally, Ventus Lau, accusing him of lying and inciting the crowd when he claimed not to know several police liaison officers before they were beaten up.

Senior Superintendent Ng Lok-chun told reporters four officers were hurt in policing Sunday’s rally, including community liaison officers who were attacked by “rioters” armed with bricks and extendable batons shortly after they went to ask Lau to call an early end to the rally at Chater Garden.

Ng said they had no choice but to ask the organisers to cut the rally short because some people had set barricades at nearby roads, vandalised traffic lights and defaced a number of buildings at around 4pm.

However, when a liaison officer spoke to Lau, he demanded he show his warrant card, as he did not know whether he is a genuine police officer.

Lau said he only showed his warrant card after repeated demands, and a large crowd had gathered nearby and surrounded him and several other officers.

Masked assailants then proceeded to beat the officers, chasing them from Chater Garden to Cheung Kong Centre.

“This happened in broad daylight, and right in front of the event organiser himself,” Ng said.

“We must point out the liaison officers have all along maintained close communication with the organiser. The organisers certainly is acquainted with those injured officers. We are aware that the organiser told the press that the injured officers were ‘suspected plainclothes’. This is certainly ridiculous and irresponsible”, he added.

Lau was later arrested right after speaking to reporters in Wanchai. Ng said the activist had ‘obstructed’ the police, and violated the conditions stated in the force’s ‘letter of no objection’.

Ng also defended the first police use of tear gas in weeks, saying it was the minimum necessary force to stop the “rioters” from continuing on with their “rampage.”

“Violent protesters hijacked a public event held in Chater Garden to inflict extensive damage to the area and launch vicious attacks on our colleagues,” Ng added.

He also defended the police for conducting numerous “stop and search” operations in the area even before the rally, saying it had been effective in identifying eight suspicious men carrying “weapons.”

“They were found in possession of hammers, spanners and extendable batons”, Ng said. “We saw similar weapons used to cause damage and attack our officers during the public event.”

He said the police strongly condemns all the ‘rioters’ and their violent acts.