Multiple journalists on Sunday were injured during protester-police clashes as officers fired tear gas to disperse crowds in Mong Kok.
Around 100 people gathered outside Langham Place in Mong Kok at 9pm, in keeping with plans to rally at shopping malls across the city. At least two people were arrested while police conducted a clearance operation of the area.
At around 10:40pm, riot police fired pepper spray at residents and journalists near the intersection of Nathan Road and Shantung Street. Police then headed to Sai Yeung Choi Street South, where they raised a black warning flag for around 10 seconds before firing several canisters of tear gas.
At around 11:25pm, around 8 officers tried to push back a group of reporters near the intersection of Shantung Street and Portland Street.
A photojournalist for Mad Dog Daily was pepper-sprayed in the face and beaten with batons after he briefly argued with riot police officers. He was then arrested and taken to the Mong Kok police station. The reason for his arrest remains unclear.
Posted by 香港電台視像新聞 RTHK VNEWS on Sunday, 15 December 2019
Leung Kam-cheung, editor of Mad Dog Daily, said in a statement that the reporters were within their rights to be on the scene working and followed police orders to return to the pavement. He said he has contacted a lawyer to arrange bail for his arrested employee.
“We express our strongest condemnation over such an irrational and barbaric act, and urge our industry to condemn the Hong Kong government and the police,” Leung said.
Riot police also subdued a man on Portland Street at around 1am. Before they left, they fired at least one more round of tear gas.
Student journalist injured
A Hong Kong Baptist University student journalist was struck in the face by a suspected police projectile near his right eye. His safety goggles were broken by the impact and the wound on his cheekbone bled.
The student journalist told reporters that police had fired without warning.
“I do not believe it was intentional, but I don’t understand why they pointed [the tear gas launcher] at the pavement. Clearly there were only first-aiders and journalists left on site,” he said. “It felt as though they were targeting journalists and medics.”
Hong Kong’s ongoing pro-democracy protests have entered their seventh month as demonstrators continue to demand an investigation into alleged police misconduct, amnesty for those arrested since June, retraction of the use of the term “riot,” and democratic reform. The unrest was initially sparked by a now-withdrawn plan to draw up an extradition agreement with mainland China.
The clashes in Mong Kok came after an afternoon of small-scale protests in plazas across Hong Kong. Crowds had responded to online calls to disrupt Christmas shopping by chanting protest slogans and singing songs while marching inside the malls.
Some damaged glass barriers inside Sha Tin’s New Town Plaza and overturned tables and chairs at Chiuchow Garden, a restaurant under Maxim’s. A woman had her face spray-painted after arguing with protesters.
At around 4:46pm, police released a statement saying that officers had entered New Town Plaza to conduct law enforcement actions. They also said someone had hurled a smoke bomb at the bus terminus outside Exit A of Sha Tin MTR station.
“Police state that there were many citizens waiting for buses at the bus terminus while the smoke bomb went off. The act of hurling [a] smoke bomb [in a] crowded area was extremely irresponsible as it could cause chaos and stir up public fear,” the force said.
“Police condemn the reckless acts of the protestors and warn them to stop all illegal activities and leave immediately,” they added.
Several minor confrontations broke out at Telford Plaza in Kowloon Bay where protesters had gathered to chant slogans. Riot police entered the mall to disperse the crowd. Officers subdued a man and fired pepper spray at bystanders.
Two plainclothes police officers holding batons at the Metroplaza in Kwai Fong were confronted by residents who asked them about their identities.
Police reinforcements arrived soon after and plainclothes officers took away a man, who was released later. According to Apple Daily, the man said he had done nothing wrong and was only observing from the side.
Meanwhile, two Tuen Mun district councillor-elects – Lam Ming-yan and Lam Kin-cheung – arrived at Tuen Mun Park in response to noise complaints about loud singers, known as “dai mas.” The pair entered into an argument with people at the park.
Riot police arrived at Tuen Mun Park shortly after but did not make arrests.
Dozens also gathered outside Pacific Place shopping mall in Admiralty on Sunday evening to mourn the death of Marco Leung, a 35-year-old man who fell on June 15 while protesting.
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.