Riot police on Tuesday dispersed dozens of anti-government protesters who had gathered at a Yuen Long mall to mark one year since a mob of white-shirted men stormed through the MTR station there, beating people with sticks and rods in an attack that shocked the city.
Democratic party lawmaker Ted Hui was arrested for allegedly obstructing police, and a district councillor was taken away after he was accused of violating the new national security law. Many others said to have breached the government ban on public gatherings of more than four people were given penalty tickets.
It all started at around 6pm when dozens of protesters wearing black gathered at the Yoho mall, chanting slogans insulting the police, calling on the force to disband, and advocating Hong Kong independence.
Security guards from the mall stood by, holding up signs asking people to keep their distance from one another to comply with the government ban on public gatherings of any more than four people.
Riot police rushed in a short time after, cordoning off the area where the protesters were gathered, to conduct identity checks.
Many shops then pulled down their shutters, as officers marched through the mall warning people that they may be taking part in an illegal assembly, and that anyone in a group of more than four people are in breach of the gathering ban.
They then dispersed the crowd. More people returned later to shout at police and chant slogans, only to be chased off again.
At around 9pm, Ted Hui used a loudhailer to urge police not to "abuse their power" by making needless arrests, before he was taken aside, arrested, and led away in handcuffs.
Kwai Tsing district councillor Rayman Chow was earlier taken away by officers for allegedly violating the national security law.
He was said to have held up a placard of popular protest slogans, including “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times”.
The force said in a social media post that a man was taken away for investigation, but did not specify if he was arrested.
Police later confirmed that they arrested five people: one under the security law, three for alleged obstruction of police and one for allegedly violating a curfew order
They said 79 people were ticketed for breaching the public gathering ban.
People at the mall that RTHK spoke to weren’t happy with the police action.
An IT worker who gave his name as Au Yeung said he found it ironic for the police to respond so quickly to a small group of people chanting, when it took 39 minutes for officers to respond to thousands of calls for help during the July 21 attack.
"I think they're compensating for their lateness last year," he said.
Dora, who said she was out shopping, said she thought the police had overreacted.
“I don’t think shouting any slogan is illegal and I think actually the police are quite irritating because they actually are stopping us from shopping”, she said.
While critics have heavily criticised the police for its slow response to the attack last year, the force has strenuously denied any claims of wrongdoing.
The Independent Police Complaints Council had also concluded in its report that there was no evidence the force had colluded with the white-clad men, or let them off lightly.
Thirty-seven people have so far been arrested in connection with last year’s attack, with seven of them charged with rioting or conspiring with an intent to wound.
Police say they're still investigating the case.
Last updated: 2020-07-22 HKT 00:14
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