Mong Kok riot

Kitchen worker pried bricks from pavement before riot in Hong Kong – but did not throw them at police

So Tak-shing jailed for four months his part in disturbance in Mong Kok on the second day of the Lunar New Year in 2016

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 August, 2017, 8:53pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 August, 2017, 10:08pm

A kitchen hand was jailed for four months by a Hong Kong court on Thursday for prying bricks out of pavements during the Mong Kok riot last year.

So Tak-shing, 28, a member of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal damage at West Kowloon Court related to the disturbance that rocked one of the city’s busiest districts on February 9.

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Although So did not learn the bricks had been used as missiles until he turned on the news the next day, the sentencing magistrate said his role should not be overlooked.

“If it wasn’t for your participation, others would not have carried out what they did so easily,” said chief magistrate Clement Lee Hing-nin.

He said the assistance So provided made the offence serious and thus the defendant deserved a deterrent sentence.

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On the second day of the Lunar New Year, protesters in masks hurled bricks at police officers and vehicles and set parts of the shopping hub on fire.

So was caught on closed-circuit television prying out the bricks on Soy Street. He was arrested on June 14, when he admitted he also removed bricks from nearby Sai Yeung Choi Street South.

“I was only prying bricks out, but did not hurl them at police officers,” he said after being arrested. He said his intention was to leave the bricks in the road to obstruct traffic.

The cost to repair the two roads was HK$23,000, according to Highways Department.

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His lawyer described So during mitigation as “a decent young man”, who happened to have channelled his passion in the wrong manner. Former Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan also wrote to the magistrate, praising So’s diligence and straightforward character.

But magistrate Lee said he had already exercised discretion by ordering the sentences for both charges to be served concurrently.