Police in Hong Kong deny mob members used

TALKS OFF::Clashes and arrests prompted protest leaders to call off planned talks with the government, while police were urging people to clear the streets


Sun, Oct 05, 2014 - Page 1

Friction between pro-democracy protesters and opponents of their week-long occupation of major Hong Kong streets persisted yesterday as police denied they had any connection to criminal gangs suspected of inciting attacks on largely peaceful demonstrators.

Student protesters urged supporters to turn out again in the evening to show their solidarity.

“The more suppression by the government, the more resistance by the people,” 17-year-old student leader Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) told protesters.

Police arrested 19 people during a night of running brawls in which at least 12 people and six officers were injured. Eight of the arrested men were believed to have backgrounds linked to triads, or organized crime, Hong Kong Police Senior Superintendent Patrick Kwok Pak-chung (郭柏聰) said.

Kwok said those arrested were facing charges of unlawful assembly, fighting in public and assault.

Officials denied rumors they might have coordinated with the gangs to clear the streets.

“Such rumors linking us to ‘black societies’ are utterly unfair,” Hong Kong Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok (黎棟國) told reporters.

“We strongly condemn all violent acts,” Deputy Hong Kong Police Superintendent Cheung Tak-keung (張德強) said.

The confrontations, mostly in the Mong Kok area, led protest leaders to call off planned talks with the government on political reforms. Students and other activists object to China’s decision to require a committee of mostly pro-Beijing figures screen candidates for the territory’s first-ever election of its top leader in 2017.

Protesters are also demanding the resignation of Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (梁振英).

With the talks suspended, the next steps in the crisis were uncertain. Police have repeatedly urged protesters and their opponents to clear the streets for the sake of public order, but have shown tolerance after the earlier attempt to disperse the protesters just drew more people into the streets.

The standoff in Mong Kok, across Victoria Harbor from the activists’ main protest encampment, continued yesterday after a tense night when hundreds of supporters of the protesters gathered to protect them.

On social media, an image circulated purportedly calling on people in the “silent majority” to gather and agitate the protesters in Mong Kok for HK$300 (US$38), promising bonuses for extra destruction. The information could not be verified and calls to a mobile phone number listed on the notice did not go through.