Hong Kong’s citywide class boycott was met with police action for the second day in a row on Tuesday, as footage emerged of an officer tackling a teenage student in a playground. The pupil was seen bleeding from his face after police gave chase and he fell to the ground.
At 8am, around 60 people gathered outside Confucian Tai Shing Ho Kwok Pui Chun College in Tai Po in support of the class boycott – a protest organised by student groups to put pressure on the Hong Kong government.
Soon afterwards, two police vans and a patrol car arrived on the scene, and around 10 uniformed officers approached a crowd of students. When the students were about to leave, a few officers charged ahead and one officer tackled a student outside a neighbourhood playground.
Footage shot by Cupid Producer showed the student falling to the ground. He was seen bleeding from his mouth and chin afterwards. According to Apple Daily, the student lost a front tooth and another front tooth was broken.
According to Apple Daily, at least four of the students were stopped and searched before being allowed to leave. Paramedics later treated the injured student and took him to the hospital. One officer also reportedly scraped his arm when he fell.
It was unclear why officers were summoned to the scene, though the vice-principal of the school said in a statement they did not call the police.
At their daily press briefing on Tuesday, a police spokesperson said that officers were dispatched to the Tai Po school because of noise complaints.
The spokesperson denied that an officer had tackled the student, only saying that police “had the responsibility” to chase after those who are fleeing. The ground was wet and the officer and the student “both slipped and fell,” he added.
Tuesday was the second day of the class boycott, which was initiated by political group Demosisto and student groups. On Monday, hundreds of secondary school students in uniform gathered at Edinburgh Place in Central to protest amidst heavy rain.
Since June, large-scale peaceful protests against the ill-fated extradition bill have morphed into sometimes violent displays of dissent over Beijing’s encroachment, democracy, alleged police brutality, surveillance and other community grievances. Among their demands, students are seeking a complete withdrawal of the bill and an independent probe into police behaviour.
Confucian Tai Shing Ho Kwok Pui Chun College made headlines on Monday when its principal, Leung Chau-wan, was heard saying that she would report the number of students participating in the class boycott to the Education Bureau.
According to a recording leaked online, Leung defended the decision to students, saying that she was following government guidelines and that “every school does it.”
The school also arranged for students who chose to boycott classes to stay in the lecture hall, which was criticised by students as being an unfair restriction.
“It’s not that I didn’t arrange a location for you. But you say, you want a specific place… This isn’t your freedom, you never had it, why do you think you have it now?” Leung was heard saying.
A youngster retorted: “So we don’t have freedom?”
Leung replied: “You have freedom. You just don’t have absolute freedom. If you want freedom, then the only thing you can do is not to be a student here.”
On Monday evening, large crowds surrounded the school and demanded an explanation from the principal and the staff. Police officers tried to use a warning flag to disperse the crowds, but left after they were booed.
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