Hong Kong protests: Three marches planned for the weekend have been cancelled or downgraded

Police have refused to approve the protests, citing safety concerns as the reason

Joanne Ma |

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Senior Superintendent of the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau, Li Kwai-wah , holds up an image from the Causeway Bay protest, when laser pointers were used against riot police, at the media briefing at the Police Headquarters in Wan Chai.

Protesters on Friday began their three-day sit in at Hong Kong International Airport. Hundreds of black-clad demonstrators converged on the two arrival halls, hoping to win support from international visitors for their movement.

At the time of going to press, the protests were peaceful, but the action had been given police approval.

Police announced at a press conference that upcoming planned protests in Wong Tai Sin, Tai Po, and Sham Shui Po had actually been given a “letter of objection” because of concerns for public safety after protesters had used catapults, Molotov cocktails, and spears during Monday’s citywide strike.

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Organisers said the Wong Tai Sin march would be cancelled and appealed to supporters to go to the other rallies. Police downgraded a march planned at Island East to a gathering at Victoria Park. It will be held from 1pm to 5pm.

Police also warned the Fujianese community that anyone engaging in violence would be arrested, regardless of their background. This comes after protesters were attacked on Monday by men wielding sticks in North Point. The warning came on the back of rumours on social media that mainlanders from Fujian were planning to inundate North Point to block the marches.

Protesters hold a peaceful sit-in at Hong Kong International Airport.
Photo: Nester Chik Yiu-kai

Meanwhile, Baptist University (HKBU) president Roland Chin Tai-hong said in an email released on Thursday night that he had asked police to clarify their actions regarding the arrest of HKBU student union leader, Keith Fong Chung-yin, for possession of laser pointers.

Chin said he had sought answers from Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu and Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung as to why a laser pointer was regarded as an offensive weapon, why possessing a laser pointer which was not in use constituted an offence, and why Fong, 20, had been subjected to force during his arrest. Fong was released an hour before the letter came out.

Fong was stopped by five off-duty officers on Tuesday after buying 10 laser pointers – which police called “laser guns” – from a shop in Sham Shui Po. He was arrested for possession of offensive weapons and later sent to Caritas Medical Centre because he felt unwell. The arrest drew more than 300 people to siege Sham Shui Po Police Station that night.

Laser pointer sales on the rise after student arrested for possession of 10

Meanwhile, the police force has brought former deputy police commissioner Alan Lau Yip-shing out of retirement to deal with the city’s protest crisis. Lau oversaw operations during the 2014 Occupy protests and the 2016 Mong Kok riot. He was appointed by the government as deputy commissioner on special duty yesterday, SCMP reported.

In the meantime, organisers at Safeguard Hong Kong are calling for a “Support Police Day” to be held on Saturday. They appeal to general citizens to wear blue and write support cards to the force.They also ask Hongkongers to take photos with the police and upload them to their social media platforms with hashtags “supportpolice” and “safeguardhk”.