5 security guards arrested for trying to prevent riot police from entering mall

Viral video shows the moment riot police charge into a mall in Ma On Shan to arrest someone. Mall security guards can be seen trying to hold the doors closed to prevent them from entering. Screengrab via Facebook video.
Viral video shows the moment riot police charge into a mall in Ma On Shan to arrest someone. Mall security guards can be seen trying to hold the doors closed to prevent them from entering. Screengrab via Facebook video.

Five mall security guards who were caught on camera trying to prevent riot police from entering a Ma On Shan mall on Monday night have just been arrested for “obstructing police officers.”

According to a NOW TV alert, the suspects comprise three men and two women*. They are believed to have been among those seen in a viral video from Monday evening showing suited security guards at MOSTown mall in Ma On Shan holding the mall’s doors closed to prevent a group of riot police from running in.

NOW TV reports that all five are being detained at Ma On Shan police station for further questioning.

In the viral video, the guards can be seen trying to hold the doors for as long as possible, only for dozens of police to eventually force the doors open and stream into the building.

HKFP reported that the incident in question took place during protests that sprang up around the city in the wake of a controversial face mask ban that was implemented at midnight on Saturday morning. Demonstrators had reportedly gathered at MOSTown mall at 8pm to sing protest songs, with some moving on to nearby Ma On Shan MTR station to vandalize the premises.

According to an i-Cable news report from that evening, riot police arrived in Ma On Shan at about 9pm, and footage from the report shows some of the mall’s security staff trying to shoo terrified shoppers away from the doors as officers rushed in.

At one point in the i-Cable report, a man with a short-sleeved shirt and red tie — who the outlet identified as a security guard — can be seen with his arms outstretched trying to prevent officers from charging any further.

During the commotion, a Stand News journalist who was livestreaming the incident was pushed to the ground by a police officer as officers subdued another man.

Angry Hongkongers responded by turning up to Ma On Shan police station, and the officers inside responded by firing tear gas at them.

The storming of MOSTown mall had generated widespread anger online because officers appeared not to have obtained a search warrant to enter the mall. However, Section 50 of the Police Force Ordinance appears to empower police to enter — forcibly, if need be — a building or residence if they have reason to believe that “any person to be arrested” is inside and may escape before a warrant can be issued.

Police at yesterday afternoon’s press conference defended the move, citing the Police Force Ordinance, and adding that officers had received 999 calls about damage done to shops and the train station.

*UPDATE: A previous version of this article cited local media reports saying the suspects comprised four males and one female. Subsequent reports clarified that the suspects are in fact three males and two females.

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