A 12-year-old girl was reportedly arrested and two teenage journalists were taken away during 'singing' protests at malls across Hong Kong on Sunday afternoon.
Around ten people were said to be arrested at the upscale Moko shopping centre in Mong Kok, after an officer appeared to fire ‘pepper ball’ projectiles in response to a drinks bottle thrown from above.
Journalists at the scene say an acrid smell hung in the air afterwards.
Officers had entered the mall at around 4pm to disperse a crowd of several dozen people who had been singing protest songs and chanting anti-government slogans.
Police then stormed up several floors, cordoning areas off and telling people to leave in the process. They then arrested at least several people by the food court.
Yau Tsim Mong District Councillor Ben Lam said police had told him that nine people were arrested for unlawful assembly.
He also told reporters a 12-year-old girl was arrested for allegedly possessing an offensive weapon. There were no details on what that ‘weapon’ was.
As police were making their way up various floors at the mall, passersby mocked them, making multiple references to ‘ice’ – after four officers were arrested over the past week in relation to a major seizure of methamphetamine – also known as ‘ice’ in Hong Kong.
Some also derisively wished the officers’ mothers a happy Mother’s Day.
In Tsim Sha Tsui's Harbour City mall, scores of officers went in warning people that they may be violating social distancing regulations.
A young boy was led away by officers there at around 6pm.
Samson Chan – an assistant to legislator Ted Hui – told reporters that he is a 13-year-old reporter for a student paper, and was led away by police after he was searched for the third time in the same afternoon in the sprawling shopping centre.
As he was being led away, social worker Jackie Chen demanded to accompany the teen, saying his rights as a child must be fully protected.
However, her requests to speak to a police commander or public relations officer were ignored, and the boy was taken away on his own.
Around an hour and a half later, he was released from Tsim Sha Tsui police station, accompanied by his mother. He reportedly had not been arrested.
Police later said another 16-year-old student reporter was also taken away from the same shopping centre. She was also not arrested, but officers called her guardian to take her home.
At the Cityplaza mall in Tai Koo, where another ‘Sing with You’ protest was held, many people claimed they had been unfairly given HK$2,000 penalty tickets for allegedly violating anti-gathering regulations.
One man said he was fined even though he was there alone.
A family of three were also fined, but they told reporters they were actually at the mall to celebrate Mother’s Day.
Social gathering restrictions were on Friday eased, allowing gatherings in public of up to eight people. The previous limit was four.
Police later issued a statement warning protesters to stop gathering in large groups or breach the peace, saying the force will take enforcement actions “resolutely”.
A spokesman said officers had entered multiple malls in various locations on Sunday afternoon after receiving reports from members of the public.
He added that any public gathering of more than eight people is prohibited under the government’s anti-epidemic regulations.
Last updated: 2020-05-10 HKT 22:49
Girl arrested as police fire pepper balls in mall
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