CROSS-STRAIT TALKS: Police officers shocked by public anger, aggression

By Jimmy Chuang and Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Nov 07, 2008 - Page 3

A police officer on duty near National Taiwan University Hospital during yesterday’s protests against Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin’s (陳雲林) visit told the Taipei Times he was shocked by the hatred directed at the police in the past few days.

Statistics released by the National Police Agency yesterday indicated that 27 officers have been injured on duty since Monday.

“I understand that [the protesters] don’t like us and attack us because we have been trying to stop them from doing stupid things. But we’re Taiwanese too and we’re just doing our job,” said the officer, from Da-an Precinct. “The protests against China shouldn’t end in Taiwanese hating each other.”

The officer, who wished to remain anonymous, said that as a policeman, it was his duty to ensure public safety and his job to protect visitors, regardless of whether he likes them.

“There is a way to fix any disagreement, but violence is not always the answer,” he said before returning to his post.

When approached for comment, Wenshan First Precinct Chief Tsai Tsang-po (蔡蒼柏), who was in charge at the scene yesterday, said with agitation: “We will do whatever it takes to keep the peace.”

An officer from Zhongzheng First Precinct who gave only his surname, Chen (陳), directing traffic near Taipei District Court, said he would have joined the protests if he were not on the police force.

“I can’t because I am a police officer and I have responsibilities, but I am also against the way China has been treating us,” Chen said.

But Chen urged the public to remain calm. He hoped the public understood that most officers were simply doing their jobs.

“It makes no sense to hurt your fellow countrymen or yourself just because of a Chinese official,” he said.

More than 3,000 officers from several Taipei City Police Department precincts were on duty at yesterday’s protests.

Many protesters have reported rough treatment by police in the past three days. While some have been dragged out of restaurants and hotels, others have been pushed to the ground and threatened with violence.

Another anonymous police officer said the police would never touch the protesters if “they weren’t so ridiculously insane.”

“The protesters have abused their freedom. There is a limit to how much you can do in a free society and they have crossed the line,” he said.

Another policeman said he was simply following orders.

“You and I are both the same. We all need to make a living,” he said.