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Barriers torn down amid 'escalating violence' at Mong Kok protest zone

Police again warn Mong Kok 'on verge of a riot' as radical protesters and troublemakers clash

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 October, 2014, 2:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 October, 2014, 11:23am

Part of a Mong Kok street blocked by Occupy supporters was reopened to traffic yesterday after several men tore down barricades amid angry scenes.

Police reiterated their warning that Mong Kok was "on the verge of a riot" amid what they said was "escalating violence".

The unidentified men removed wooden boards from a section of Portland Street near Langham Place and ripped up other barricades on Argyle Street. But another section of Portland Street remains blocked. The men said they were not court bailiffs acting for transport operators who have been granted injunctions ordering clearance of the roads.

"I'm coming to clear the rubbish. Why do I need bailiffs?" one of the men, identifying himself as "a man of righteousness", said. "I'll just rip off whatever [barricades] I see."

Police arrived to mediate after a row broke out between the men and protesters. Officers took the boards to the side of the road, enabling vehicles to enter Argyle Street from Portland Street.

Police spokesman Chief Superintendent Steve Hui Chun-tak said 11 people, aged 32 to 82, had been arrested in Mong Kok since Wednesday afternoon for common assault, indecent assault, possession of offensive weapons, disorderly conduct and dropping objects from buildings.

"There is an escalating trend to serious public disorder and it is on the verge of a riot," Hui said. "There are radical protesters and troublemakers mixing in the illegal assembly. Large-scale confrontation could be sparked at any moment."

Police are searching for a South Asian man after an online video clip showed him use a box cutter to hit a protester twice around the waist in the Mong Kok protest zone on Wednesday. He was among a group who tried to remove obstacles to traffic and were stopped by a group of Occupy protesters at about 6pm, the YouTube video showed.

The clip, recorded by Civic Passion, showed the attacker being grabbed by a red-shirted protester during a scuffle. He hit the protester's abdomen with the cutter before handing it to his friends and leaving.

A witness said the victim did not need medical treatment and a senior police officer said it appeared the cutter blade was not extended or he would have suffered serious stab wounds.

The officer said police had not received any complaint of a stabbing in Mong Kok but were looking for the victim and attacker.

Four injunctions have been sought from the High Court to clear barriers at Occupy protest zones. Three have been granted - two in Mong Kok and the other in Admiralty. Judge Thomas Au Hing-cheung will decide today whether to continue them.

Additional reporting by Thomas Chan and Timmy Sung

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An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated that lawyers for alleged police beating victim Ken Tsang had criticised Mr Judge Thomas Au Hing-cheung in a writ. In fact, the criticism was directed against the Commissioner of Police. The error was introduced in the editing process. We sincerely apologise for the error.