Hong Kong volunteer group Protect Our Kids Campaign has decried “police brutality” after a video surfaced online showing one of their members beaten by officers in a back alley.
On Saturday evening, police took a man wearing a yellow vest – a signature outfit for the group – into an alley during the protests in Yuen Long. Demonstrators gathered in the district to mark the two month anniversary of the July 21 mob attacks, where men dressed in white indiscriminately assaulted train passengers and passersby with bamboo sticks and rods.
While protesters were initially gathered inside the Yoho mall, they spilt out onto the streets of Yuen Long near 9pm and clashed with police.
The man from the Protect Our Kids Campaign was arrested near Fung Yau Street North around 10pm, according to Apple Daily. His group have helped escort elderly demonstrators – who have acted as peacekeepers – around the frontlines of the summer’s protests.
A video shot from a high angle showed a man in a yellow vest being surrounded by 30 to 40 riot police officers.
One officer was seen kicking towards the man’s midriff while he was lying on the ground. When the woman recording the video shouted at the police and told them to stop hitting the man, other officers shone their flashlights at her, obscuring the view.
Apple Daily retrieved footage from Saturday night's Yuen Long clashes showing police kicking an apparently unconscious member of "Protect the Children" after arresting him and taking him to an inner street. Media had been ordered to leave.
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) September 22, 2019
“We are infuriated by this incident of police brutality. Our member did not resist arrest nor in any way attack the police,” said preacher Roy Chan, also a member of the Campaign. “We have contacted our member’s legal representative, and learned that his gums and teeth are bleeding and that he is experiencing dizziness.”
Chan compared the incident to the assault of social worker Ken Tsang in 2014, which took place at the height of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Umbrella Movement. Tsang was beaten up by seven police officers in a dimly-lit corner outside government headquarters, which later resulted in the officers being jailed.
“By repeating the same mistake of the Ken Tsang case, the [Hong Kong police] has not only deepened the cleavage between police and citizens, but also aroused the wrath of God. The [police] should repent their evil deeds, or the judgment and the curse of God shall be pronounced upon them” the preacher added.
The victim was later taken to Pok Oi Hospital for treatment. He had not been released from police custody as of Sunday evening, according to Chan.
The woman who filmed the incident told Apple Daily that, at the time of the assault, the man did not react to physical contact and seemed to have lost consciousness.
When she yelled at police to stop, officers shouted back that she was a “cockroach” and threatened to arrest her, she said.
At Monday’s press briefing, Acting Senior Superintendent (Operations) Vasco Williams of New Territories North Region denied any instance of police misconduct: “You mentioned a video in which shows what appears to be an officer kicking a yellow object on the ground,” Williams told a reporter.
“Now we don’t know what that object is, but there are other videos that are more clear, that showed the entire incident and there’s no malpractice by the police whatsoever.’
When challenged by reporters that the yellow “object” was, in fact, a man, Williams said that the “genuine online feed” showed there was no assault. He asked that the person who filmed the incident to come forward and speak to the police.
When challenged again later on, he said: “When I said it was an object, my next phrase was going to be, the video is very out of focus, and it could have been a person, an object, a bag or a vest — before I was interrupted.”
Williams said that the other video footage that exculpated the police was available online, but did not provide more details.
Grandpa Chan pepper-sprayed
Also in the Yuen Long district, another elderly member of the Protect Our Kids Campaign was pepper-sprayed while trying to act as a mediator. The 73-year-old Chan Ki-kau, also known as “Grandpa Chan,” often appeared at protest frontlines urging calm.
He was pushed back and pepper-sprayed while he was trying to approach officers arresting a group of teenagers. Chan was briefly held by police but was eventually released without being arrested.
On Saturday, the peaceful sit-in at the Yuen Long Yoho Mall devolved into street clashes, with protesters throwing Molotov cocktails at police vans and officers firing multiple rounds of tear gas near Castle Peak Road.
Protesters were also spotted committing acts of vigilantism against people accused of assaulting a paramedic. Riot police made multiple arrests in the early hours of Sunday.
Events over the weekend marked 16 consecutive weeks of protests in Hong Kong, which was sparked by a soon-to-be-withdrawn extradition bill, which would have allowed case-by-case fugitive transfers to mainland China. Large-scale demonstrations have morphed into sometimes violent displays of dissent over Beijing’s encroachment and alleged police brutality.
Hong Kong Free Press relies on direct reader support. Help safeguard independent journalism and press freedom as we invest more in freelancers, overtime, safety gear & insurance during this summer’s protests. 10 ways to support us.