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Mong Kok riot

#Fishballrevolution: Hong Kong’s social media users react to violent Mong Kok hawker protest

The riot broke out as police attempted to clear hawkers on Portland Street in Hong Kong’s busy Mong Kok district

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 February, 2016, 12:39pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 February, 2016, 8:56pm

Street hawkers clashed with police in Mong Kok on the first night of the Lunar New Year in violent scenes, prompting Hong Kong netizens to dub it ‘fishball revolution’.

A mass response to health officers cracking down on street food sellers’ hygiene standards quickly became a riot on Portland Street, with glass bottles and bricks being used as projectiles.

Tensions escalated after police pointed guns in the faces of protesters and warning shots were fired.

READ MORE: Hong Kong’s New Year night of ‘rioting’ leaves Mong Kok in lockdown after street hawker crackdown descends into ugly street battles between police and protesters

Both sides equipped themselves for physical conflict, with police donning shields, batons, pepper spray and guns, while protesters reportedly arrived armed with home-made shields, goggles, helmets and gloves.

Hongkongers sought to highlight the protest was about the problems faced by street food hawkers – spawning the Twitter hashtag #fishballrevolution.

Some suggested that violent factions had hijacked the protest for their own means.

While the protest began as a pushback against police trying to clear Mong Kok of hawkers, the vendors themselves were not necessarily involved in the events that escalated to violence.

The use of #fishballrevolution was met with criticism as Hongkongers commented the lighthearted hashtag undermined the seriousness of the violence.

SCMP journalist Vivienne Chow posted: “OMG now the #Mongkok chaos is dubbed #fishballrevolution #HongKong.”

READ MORE: Mong Kok hawker protest in pictures: violence erupts on first night of Lunar New Year

Another tweeter said: “#HongKong The #UmbrellaMovement has now become #FishballRevolution . Talking about pathetic... A new degree in childishness.”

Closing off the same block on Nathan Road as during the pro-democracy protest 2014, some commenters pointed out the parallels between last night and the Occupy movement.

香港警察,兩次拎住支槍指住既,都係手無寸鐵既香港市民。

Posted by 唐生大地震 on Monday, February 8, 2016

Mong Kok – one of Hong Kong’s busiest districts – was put on lockdown following the night of violence.

Early reports suggested 48 police officers were injured. Twenty-three people were arrested for various public order offences. Police could not immediately confirm the number of injured protesters.

Others on social media questioned the police resources given to clearing street hawkers.

Crusade Yau Siu-kei, deputy Mong Kok district commander, confirmed an officer had fired two warning shots during the chaos as it was believed a senior constable’s life was in danger.

There was more than hundred rioters, with 55 arrests and a total of 124 injured, 90 of whom were police.