Hong Kong protests: Tear gas deployed in Yuen Long as demonstrators mark three months since attacks in MTR

South China Morning Post

Meanwhile, peaceful sit-ins also took place in other areas of the city, such as Causeway Bay and Mong Kok

South China Morning Post |

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Protesters engage in a game of cat-and-mouse, splintering off as police advance and regrouping after officers move away.

Riot police deployed tear gas to disperse anti-government protesters who occupied a section of Castle Peak Road in Yuen Long on Monday night, as they held a rally to mark the three-month anniversary of the attacks in Yuen Long MTR station.

Protesters, mainly masked and wearing black, set up makeshift barricades to block traffic at about 8pm.

Riot police soon moved in, confronted by protesters who shone laser pens and hurled abuse at them.

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Radical protesters also vandalised bank facilities on Tai Tong Road.

Officers repeatedly warned the crowd that force could be used to disperse them, as they were taking part in an unlawful assembly. But protesters remained defiant, and at about 9.30pm police fired the first round of tear gas.

That led to a game of a cat-and-mouse, with protesters splintering off as police advanced and regrouping after officers moved away.

Tear gas used to disperse anti-government protesters in Yuen Long.
Photo: SCMP / Sam Tsang

Protesters reportedly threw petrol bombs at the Shap Pat Heung rural committee building on Yau Tin East Road. A No 1 alarm occurred at the committee’s address at around 10.30pm, according to the fire service. At about 11.45pm, riot police fired tear gas as a protester threw a suspected petrol bomb on the ground near Hong Lok Road Light Rail stop.

A cardboard box with wires and a device on the top was left on Light Rail tracks, but police said they had no information on any reports of suspected bombs in Yuen Long by midnight.

Dozens of riot police remained on the streets into the early hours of Tuesday for a dispersal operation. Several people were detained over the course of the evening, including a white-clad man who was bleeding from the head.
Senior Superintendent Steve Li Kwai-wah, of the organised crime and triad bureau, denied police had been dragging their feet in the investigation. Li said on Monday that 34 men, aged between 18 and 60, had been arrested in connection with the July 21 attack. Six had been charged with rioting.
Minor scuffles also reportedly broke out between protesters and some pro-government residents on Monday night. Riot police stepped in and separated the two groups.
The chaotic scenes in Yuen Long contrasted with a largely peaceful “commemorative” sit-in at Yoho Mall, a shopping arcade linked to the Yuen Long MTR station.
Protesters take part in a rally at Yolo Mall in Yeun Long marking the third month anniversary of the Yuen Long attack on 21 July 2019.
Photo. SCMP/ K.Y. Cheng

Online calls had gone out for protesters to rally at the station at 7pm. But the station closed at 2pm, with riot police starting to take over.

The mall also closed early, at 5pm, and shops shuttered. Scores of protesters, many of whom were dressed in black and wore masks, sat on the floor of the mall’s atrium from 7pm. One protester sprayed graffiti on the floor, reading: “Do not forget July 21. In three months, how many have been arrested?”
Elsewhere, protesters staged sit-ins in the evening to mark the attack, including at Tuen Mun, Causeway Bay, Tseung Kwan O, Mong Kok and Tai Koo MTR stations. They were largely peaceful.
Anti-government protesters gathered in Causeway Bay.
Photo: SCMP / Felix Wong

At Causeway Bay station, more than 30 people staged a peaceful sit-in outside the station control room in the concourse from 7.30pm.

Posters displayed the words “Popo [Police] and gangs work with each other” and a video of the attack was played to passers-by in the station. They also chanted slogans and sang protest songs, including Glory to Hong Kong. A passer-by who supported their action told them: “Add oil, be careful and please stay safe.”

Chan, 35, who works in the education sector and joined in the sit-in after work, said she had not trusted the police force since the attack in Yuen Long. “We want to send a message to police, that Hong Kong citizens haven’t forgotten about what happened on July 21,” she said.

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Another protester, in his 30s, said he had planned to join the sit-in at Yuen Long station but since it was closed, went to the one in Causeway Bay instead. He said he wanted to express anger towards the MTR’s handling of the incident, as well as its recent early closure of stations.

“The MTR had changed its stance towards protesters since July 21,” he said. “They had a 180-degree change and became a tool for the government after state media slammed them [for helping protesters].”

At Mong Kok station, nearly 100 people joined the sit-in. Many wore masks. A passer-by gave them a thumbs-up as some chanted slogans including “Take the bus, boycott the MTR”.