I feel sorry for judges these days. Whenever they are involved in cases dealing with anti-government protesters, whatever their comments or judgments, they are bound to upset one political group or another. District Court Judge Ernest Lin Kam-hung caused controversy this week when he ordered the removal of several people wearing yellow masks from his court. The colour has become a symbol of the anti-government protest movement. But what interests me here are his comments about reporters while the court was viewing video footage submitted by prosecutors. Lin alleged people wearing yellow vests – whom he believed were from the press – had “constituted a part of the riot” by “standing there” and “preventing the victims from leaving”. That has upset many news groups. For me, though, his criticism raises several possibilities, which deserve examination: ● Just because you wore a yellow vest and carried a camera didn’t mean you were a journalist. During the protests and riots of 2019, police had complained that some people were pretending to be journalists while interfering with police operations by standing between them and protesters. ● Those “yellow vests” were journalists and some of them were sympathetic to protesters and were actively helping them. ● Those “yellow vests” were journalists who were doing their job by filming footage of victims being beaten by protesters or rioters. ● Whoever those “yellow vests” were and whatever they were doing, their behaviour was fine and justified. Hong Kong judge says political slogans, not colour made mask ban necessary Given those chaotic situations, neither we nor the judge could possibly know for sure who was who doing what. But apart from this particular case, we do know that journalists had stood by and filmed people being beaten, in some cases severely, by rioters and hooligans. We know because we have seen plenty of those distressing news photos and footage, and not all of them came from bystanders. I am sure there were cases of my local professional colleagues intervening to help such victims, though I have not heard of a single example. The only case I know of is that of local TV actress Celine Ma who was rescued by a journalist from Australia and taken to a police station after being assaulted by a mob for filming their rampage in October 2019. She ended up needing 11 stitches. I admire that guy for being a human being first and foreign correspondent second.