The message is clear, and the belief is shared
by young and old alike these days
Shortly after I put up yesterday's blog post last night, things got rather dicey in Mongkok -- thanks not so much to misbehaving protesters but, as has come to often be the case these days, misbehaving local constabulary. After some protesters from the peaceful afternoon march to spread the anti-extradition bill message to Mainland Chinese visitors took it upon themselves to continue advancing up the Kowloon Peninsula from Tsim Sha Tsui, the powers-that-be decided to put an end to the proceedings approximately an hour before midnight.
Perhaps they feared that a second Occupy Mongkok would come into being. What we know is that the riot police were sent in to deal with the protest crowd -- and instead of going ahead and dispersing the crowd without much ado, they proceeded to behave very aggressively and do such as wield their batons against unarmed protesters and push people who had been shopping in the area to the ground (note that the guy shoved by the police in that video was holding a shopping bag and walking away when he caught their attention).
Along the way, the police arrested a handful of individuals (including a young woman who was still clinging on to her plastic bottle of water after being pinned to the ground) and a man grabbed by the hair while being dragged out of a McDonald's. But pretty much anyone who looks at photos or videos of last night's police action will come to the conclusion that the individuals who caused much of the trouble were actually police officers rather than protesters or anybody else who had the misfortune to be in the area when things kicked off in earnest.
The way the riot police acted, it's like they wanted a riot to happen, only it didn't. Adding to the disgraceful behavior of the police last night was several of the uniformed officers having made a point to conceal their badge numbers and other identification and at least one officer in the frontline not dressed like someone in his position would further compounding his "crime" by erroneously asserting that he didn't need to show his ID when involved in an operation.
Some of the most surreal interactions of the night occurred after most, if not all, of the protesters had left the scene and melted away. Seemingly unable to distinguish who they were supposed to disperse, the police turned on the journalists, press photographers and a handful of pro-democracy Legislative Councillors still in the streets and even charged at them from time to time!
In the wake of last night's hostilities, the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association and Hong Kong Journalists Association released a joint statement condemning police obstruction of their work. In the same week as Carrie Lam calling a press conference at 4am, it really can seem like the authorities are trying to make enemies of the press. If not, let's just say that they really need to work better at their attempts to communicate with the Fourth Estate as well as the public at large!