Police have arrested at least 37 people, and 28 people were taken to hospital in relation to a violent clash that took place at a Hong Kong mall last night following a protest in Sha Tin.
According to Ming Pao, at least 20 men and 17 women were arrested at the New Town Plaza mall last night for illegal assembly after what began as a peaceful protest ended with riot police chasing protesters into the shopping center.
RTHK reported that 28 people — 20 men and eight women — received hospital treatment last night, and that the Hospital Authority confirmed as of 11:30am this morning, seven people were still receiving treatment at Sha Tin’s Prince of Wales Hospital and Tai Po Nethersole Hospital.
The HA added that of the seven still receiving hospital treatment, two are in a serious condition and five are reported to be stable.
Worst. Crowd. Control. Ever.
Pocari and blood. The police were here. pic.twitter.com/hJBRtJiQl5
— Hong Kong Hermit (@HongKongHermit) July 14, 2019
The government also issued a statement last night saying that following Sunday’s peaceful protest, “some protesters deliberately blocked some roads, violently assaulted police officers, and caused a breach of the peace,” and that the government condemned these acts.
Speaking to reporters last night, Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung said at least 10 of his officers were sent to hospital after sustaining injuries during the unrest, and that in the most serious case, one officer had lost a finger.
“One of our colleagues had his finger bitten off by a rioter,” he said. “Is this level of violence tolerable by Hong Kong society?”
— 🇺🇦Hong Kong World City☔️ (@HKWORLDCITY) July 15, 2019
Lo said he was saddened by the situation, warned of the deteriorating situation in recent protests, and said the police will investigate and pursue those who committed illegal acts.
Violence broke out briefly in the afternoon after the rally as protesters seized a junction and built barricades, causing an hours-long stand-off with riot police. At one point, the MTR briefly suspended services to Sha Tin, with protesters holding trains so others could still catch them.
Belatedly posting videos. At 10:30pm after MTR announced trains wouldn’t stop at Sha Tin station, protesters forced the doors to stay open so that people running away from the mall could still catch it. MTR staff said there would be more trains but people didn’t believe them. pic.twitter.com/NoXIVJcEed
— Elaine Yu (@yuenok) July 14, 2019
But the worst clashes happened later in the evening inside New Town Plaza — a popular shopping destination for mainland tourists — where hundreds of protesters fled after police moved on the barricades and then charged into the shopping complex.
Once inside, chaos erupted as police found themselves pelted from above.
At least one officer was seen knocked unconscious and there was blood on the floor of the mall. Police with shields and batons charged up to higher floors and made multiple arrests in a building filled with luxury fashion stores.
After pursuing protesters to the balcony above Sha Tin Centre, where you can enter the apartment, police were met by extremely angry local residents who urged them to leave #antiELAB pic.twitter.com/HGtvi4f7yn
— Aaron Mc Nicholas (@aaronMCN) July 14, 2019
The clash in Sha Tin is just the latest chapter in Hong Kong’s long-running protest movement, which began in opposition to a controversial extradition bill. The bill, which would have seen people extradited to the mainland to face prosecution, has been postponed, but that has not been enough to quell anger from anti-government protesters, who want the bill to be completely withdrawn.
In addition to the full withdrawal of the bill, protesters also want an independent inquiry into police’s use of force against protesters at a June 12 march that saw police deploy teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and beanbag rounds against protesters; for charges against those arrested over protests to be dropped; for the authorities to retract the use of the word “riot” to describe the June 12 protest; and for “genuine universal suffrage” in choosing the city’s leader.
Additional reporting by AFP.
NOTE: This article has been updated to include updated figures on the number of people admitted to hospital, and the number of people in a critical or stable condition.