A protester in black T-shirt is detained by the police during an illegal rally in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, Aug 11, 2019. (PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)
Hong Kong police as of Monday had arrested 149 people accused of taking part in illegal assemblies and committing related violent acts from Friday through Monday.
The police classified 15 of them, who were arrested on Sunday night during clashes with police in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island, as “extremely violent rioters” for possessing slingshots, marbles, and laser pointers.
Violence — regardless of its portrayal and disguise — is always violence... When protesters break the law, the police will have to take appropriate action to restore order
Chris Tang Ping-keung
deputy police commissioner
At a daily media briefing on Monday, Deputy Police Commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung said the suspects were in possession of lethal weapons and used “deadly force” against police officers and passersby.
Tear gas, gasoline bombs and laser pointers marked another weekend of large-scale protests and violent clashes in Hong Kong, as the city saw 10 weeks of escalating unrest spread across multiple districts.
Front-line police officers have largely adhered to the discipline of using the minimum level of force. But repeated warnings to disperse were mostly ignored by protesters, who ran amok, blocking roads, vandalizing public facilities, and throwing bricks and firebombs at police stations.
“Violence — regardless of its portrayal and disguise — is always violence,” Tang said, adding that when protesters break the law, the police will have to take appropriate action to restore order.
The police received a lot of public criticism for using at least one tear-gas grenade at the Kwai Fong railway station — an apparent contravention of the product’s instructions that its use be limited to open spaces. Kong Wing-cheung, senior superintendent of the Police Force’s Public Relations Branch, said only one such device was used in the semi-open Kwai Fong station.
Considering the potential threat posed by radical protesters who were using slingshots and smoke bombs, the police had no choice but to use force to disperse them to protect the other passengers caught inside, Kong said.
The police have arrested about 700 protesters since violence broke out in early June.
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