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Police fire tear gas at Yuen Long protesters

2020-03-21 HKT 20:57
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  • Police fire tear gas at Yuen Long protesters
  • Protesters pull down a metal barrier in Yau San Street, Yuen Long. Image: RTHK
    Protesters pull down a metal barrier in Yau San Street, Yuen Long. Image: RTHK
  • First aiders tend to a Stand News reporter in pain after apparently being being pepper-sprayed. Photo: RTHK
    First aiders tend to a Stand News reporter in pain after apparently being being pepper-sprayed. Photo: RTHK
Trouble flared in Yuen Long on Saturday night, exactly eight months since a shocking gang rampage in the town that put dozens of people in hospital.

Tear gas was fired on Hop Yick Road, and a number of arrests were made nearby, with officers pushing the media back as their colleagues pressed a man to the ground.

The pattern of protesters building barricades and police moving in with tear gas continued long into the early hours of Sunday.

Yuen Long district councillor Tommy Cheung said in a social media post that the chairman of the council, Zachary Wong of the Democratic Party, was among those arrested.

Police had upped their presence in the area well in advance.

But by 9pm, protesters dressed all in black were blocking some roads, pulling down barriers, starting small fires, and waving Hong Kong independence flags.

The tear gas caught many by surprise, smothering vehicles travelling through the area.

Officers in riot gear were stopping a number of people for searches, including some wearing first aider outfits.

Some angry demonstrators shouted at officers, and chants broke out, including one asking the police where they had been on the night of the attack.

A Stand News reporter was visibly in pain after being pepper sprayed, and during chaotic scenes at one point, police threatened other media workers with the same treatment, with one officer appearing to try to pull a reporter's respirator off his face.

The trouble continued with police firing more pepper spray and making arrests, including one man who was kneed by an officer as he was forced to the ground.

Bizarre scenes saw young men lined up with their hands tied behind their backs in the middle of an outdoor restaurant area, with some diners continuing to eat their meals despite all the commotion just inches away from their tables.

Multiple bottles were thrown towards the police from a nearby building. Police responded by pointing flashlights at the building.

Clashes continued after midnight, with some protesters setting up blockades in Yau San Street. Police issued warning flags then charged towards the group, banging their shields.

Several people were taken away in police vans after 1am. At least one person was taken away in an ambulance.

The Democratic Party said on social media that its lawmakers, Andrew Wan and Roy Kwong, were both pepper-sprayed by the police.

Meanwhile, riot officers were also confronting demonstrators in Times Square in Causeway Bay, pointing cans of pepper spray at them.

Protesters had been called to action to mark eight months since the mob violence at Yuen Long MTR Station.

Despite being inundated with 999 calls, two police officers sauntered out of the station on the night of July 21, 2019 without taking any action. It took police 39 minutes to turn out for the attack, but there was no intervention on their part.

A senior officer later blamed the dozens of victims for the beatings, claiming they had provoked their assailants.

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Last updated: 2020-03-22 HKT 02:10