The Taipei City Police Department yesterday apologized for jabbing demonstrators at a Workers’ Day protest with long bamboo poles on Wednesday, and promised to examine its handling of rallies and demonstrations.
The protest, organized by labor unions to coincide with Workers’ Day, attracted about 20,000 people from trade unions and labor rights advocacy groups from across the country.
Some protesters clashed with police in front of the Executive Yuan as they tried pull down barricades and were struck by police.
The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Taipei City council caucus yesterday lashed out at the police department during a council meeting for using violence and demanded that the department apologize to the public.
“Those workers are taxpayers and Taiwanese citizens … As we can see from footage of the protest, the police keep asking protestors to remain calm and act rationally, but the police are the ones that behaved irrationally,” DPP Taipei City Councilor Liu Yao-ren (劉耀仁) said.
At the meeting, footage showed demonstrators using hooks and ropes to tear down barricades set up by police in front of the Executive Yuan. The police reacted by jabbing at anyone who went near the barricades with long bamboo poles.
This continued for about 10 minutes until the protesters stopped trying to dismantle the barricades after several were injured.
Police Department Commissioner Huang Sheng-yong (黃昇勇) said the poles were used to push aside the protesters’ ropes and hooks, rather than hurt the protesters, but promised to examine the handling of rallies and demonstrations.
“I apologize for the use of poles during the protest. We will work to improve our handling of rallies in the future,” he said.
Fang Yang-ning (方仰寧), director of the department’s Zhongzheng First District, said he had asked district police to prepare 35 long bamboo poles before the demonstration after learning that protestors’ planned to tear down barricades and insisted that the poles were not used against protesters.
“The police were careful when using the poles and tried not to hurt protesters. We were just trying to prevent them from tearing down the barricades,” he said.