Hong Kong protests: Students at Hong Kong Design Institute vandalise campus, demanding surveillance footage of classmate found dead in sea

South China Morning Post

Classes have been cancelled for the next three days after angry students smash glass doors and graffiti walls, demanding full footage of the 15-year-old protester found dead

South China Morning Post |

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Students smash glass doors at the Hong Kong Design Institute on Monday. Photo: Dickson Lee

Classes at the Hong Kong Design Institute have been cancelled for the next three days after masked students smashed glass doors and security cameras on Monday, due to the school's handling of surveillance footage of a fellow schoolmate who was found dead.

The 15-year-old girl was a student at Youth College in Tseung Kwan O, which shares a campus with the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI), as both the schools are managed by the Vocational Training Council. She went missing on September 19 and was last seen on the campus.

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Her body was found in the sea near Tseung Kwan O on September 22. The girl, who was a member of her school’s swimming team, was said to have attended anti-government protests regularly.

Police have said that an investigation found nothing suspicious about her death. The force also confirmed the girl was not arrested during recent protests

Chief Superintendent Kelvin Kong Wing-cheung said last week that the surveillance footage from Youth College showed she left her possessions on the campus before walking barefoot towards the waterfront near Tseung Kwan O on September 19. She was reported missing two days later.

(Left) Dr. Leung Hing-pong, VTC Academic Director of IT Discipline meets people as students sit-in at Tseung Kwan O to demand VTC release CCTV of the deceased girl.
Photo: SCMP / Dickson Lee

But her schoolmates were not satisfied with the police version of the incident and on Monday demanded to see the surveillance camera footage themselves.

“She was good at swimming and had such a bright future. How could she end up like this?” a masked female student who was protesting at HKDI said.

“Release the CCTV footage, reveal the truth,” her fellow students chanted.

The protest started early on Monday morning with dozens of students staging a sit-in on the campus.

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Around 5pm, Youth College principal Jerry Kwok Lung-kei and the school staff agreed to show selected footage to the press and about 100 students.

Two clips were shown, the first filmed by a camera in a car park and the second from inside a lift.

The first clip showed the entrance to a car park, with only a sliver at the top of the screen where people could be seen walking past. When the time reached 18:56, a member of staff paused the video to point out a person dressed in black as the deceased girl. The students voiced their disapproval, as they found it very difficult to identify who the person was from the low-resolution footage.

People and students at VTC watch CCTV footage of the deceased student.
Photo: SCMP / Dickson Lee

This clip also had a change in time stamp. When it reached 18:59, the time stamp jumped back to 18:56. At this, the students accused the authorities of showing them an edited version of the video.

The second clip, which carried no time stamp, was of better resolution. In the footage, the girl was only seen entering a lift, after which the school staff declined to show any further footage. This angered the students who wanted to see what happened afterwards.

They threatened to escalate their protests if the school authority did not come up with what they believed was complete and unedited footage by 6.02pm – a 30-minute deadline they imposed on the management.

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As the authority refused to oblige, the students smashed the school’s glass doors, painted graffiti on its walls, damaged surveillance cameras and also turned on fire hydrant hoses.

The chaos lasted for about half an hour until all the students dispersed. Fire service personnel rushed in to the campus at around 6.30pm to respond to a fire alarm that was set off.

The Vocational Training Council later said in a statement that due to the situation on campus, all classes on the Tiu Keng Leng campus of the HKDI, Youth College and other institutions would remain cancelled between October 15 and 17.