Hong Kong Protesters Topple ‘Facial Recognition’ Tower, 36 Held

Hong Kong police rolled out water cannon trucks for the first time in this summer’s pro-democracy protests.

3 min read
Hong Kong Protesters Topple ‘Facial Recognition’ Tower, 36 Held

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At least 36 people have been arrested for participating in a pro-democracy protest march in Hong Kong which led to violent clashes between police and the demonstrators, authorities said on Sunday, 25 August.

The clashes escalated as Hong Kong police rolled out water cannon trucks for the first time in this summer’s pro-democracy protests, AP reported.

The day's main showdown took place in the outlying Tsuen Wan district following a protest march that ended in a nearby park.

The first day of the 12th consecutive weekend of protests ended on Saturday with the arrest of 19 men and 10 women, aged between 17 and 52, Efe News reported.

They have been accused of offences including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons, and assaulting police officers, according to the police statement.


Tear Gas, Water Cannons Directed at Protesters

After hoisting warning flags, police used tear gas to try to disperse the crowd. Protesters responded by throwing bricks and gasoline bombs toward the police.

The result was a surreal scene of small fires and scattered paving bricks on the street between the two sides, rising clouds of tear gas and green and blue laser lights pointed by the protesters at the police.

The protesters eventually decided to abandon their position. Two water cannon trucks and a phalanx of police vehicles with flashing lights joined riot police on foot as they advanced up the street. They met little resistance.

“Some radical protesters deviated from the original route and obstructed roads, damaging smart lamp-posts and assaulting police officers. Police strongly condemn the protesters' behaviour," the police said in a statement. The protesters believe the lamp posts are part of a government surveillance effort and contain facial recognition technology, though the government denies this.

The detainees include Venus Lau — one of the organisers of the march that had taken permission from the police.

Hospital authorities said that at least 10 people were treated in public health facilities. Two of them were said to be critical.

After around 10 days of relative calm, Hong Kong witnessed a tense situation on Saturday when thousands of protesters gathered in Kwun Tong, a working-class neighbourhood.

“Protesters also hurled hard objects and petrol bombs at police officers, causing damage to police vehicles and leg injuries to a reporter,” the statement added.

“I live on the 15th floor and I can even smell it at home,” he said. “I have four dogs, sneezing, sneezing all day. The protesters didn't do anything, they just blocked the road to protect themselves,” one neighbourhood resident, Dong Wong said.

Police Justify Heavy-Handedness

The police carried out a dispersion operation by using what it called “appropriate force to stop the violent acts by protesters”.

Officers pulled their guns after a group of remaining protesters chased them down a street with sticks and rods, calling them “gangsters.” The officers held up their shields to defend themselves as they retreated.

Police said that one officer fell to the ground and six drew their pistols after they were surrounded, with one firing the warning shot.

The massive street protests, which have been described as the biggest political crisis to hit the former British colony in decades, kicked off in June and have grown progressively more serious.

The protests started as a movement against the extradition bill (which has been shelved for now, but not withdrawn), which would have enabled crime suspects to be extradited from Hong Kong to mainland China, a move which was seen by dissidents as the end of the judicial freedom enjoyed by the city.

Protesters in Hong Kong have demanded that the city's leader, Carrie Lam, also chosen by a pro-Beijing committee, step down, though that demand has evolved into a broader call for fully democratic elections.

(With inputs from IANS, AP, Efe News)

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Topics:  Police   Hong Kong   Tear Gas 

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