HONG KONG-Hong Kong police on Friday called for calm and pledged to take swift action against any street violence or other illegal activities, irrespective of offenders’ backgrounds or views.
The vow came as some protesters engaged in violent confrontations last weekend, resulting in eight injuries.
The expected rally on Saturday — Clean Hong Kong Day — organized by Legislator Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, is in an attempt to remove memos and notes containing political opinions on over 70 “Lennon Walls” in places such as underpasses and footbridges across the city.
The police will deploy manpower across various districts on Saturday in an attempt to prevent conflicts from escalating out of control, said Fang Chi-kin, superintendent of the Hong Kong Police operations wing, on Friday.
The Lennon Walls, more often than not, have been sites of violence over the past three months, Fang said. Since June, police launched 40 criminal investigations into physical confrontations taking place near the walls, and arrested 57 people on charges including assault and possession of offensive weapons.
While police have always respected citizens’ freedom of speech rights, they have to be carried out in a peaceful and orderly manner and no one should resort to violence, he added.
The city has seen numerous baseless claims grow into strong accusations, said Tse Chun-chung, chief superintendent of police public relations branch.
They are not only completely false and ungrounded, but also inciting public hatred and tearing our society apart, he said. “No civilized society will condone such behavior.”
The police have held 34 press conferences, issued 486 social media posts, and released 210 statements to clear mounting rumors and show the public they value truth.
“As much as we respect citizens’ freedom of speech, we must stress the importance of telling the truth,” added Tse.
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