Arrests in Tuen Mun as people renew protest over mysterious smell

Police arrest two restaurant owners who refused to let police into the premises because they didn’t have a warrant. Screengrab via Facebook/i-Cable.
Police arrest two restaurant owners who refused to let police into the premises because they didn’t have a warrant. Screengrab via Facebook/i-Cable.

Police arrested several people in Tuen Mun on yesterday evening after protesters again gathered to demand answers from police over the source of a mysterious smell in the area on Monday afternoon.

According to Apple Daily, about 100 people had gathered in Tuen Mun at around 8:30pm to respond to a call to surround the police’s Tai Hing Operational Base. Protesters suspected that the base was the source of a mysterious, irritating smell in the area on Monday, with some claiming, without evidence, that the smell was the result of tear gas testing nearby — a charge police denied.

A similar protest over the alleged tear gas on Monday ended with actual tear gas being fired in the evening.

Authorities are still unable to figure out the cause of the smell, and police have continued to deny that chemical substances were being tested at the compound, but with trust in the police force at a historic low after months of heavy-handed policing at protests, the denials have failed to satisfy residents.

According to an i-Cable report from that night, protesters were seen yelling slogans and shining laser pointers at the base when dozens of pro-police supporters arrived and began chanting “support the police,” “cockroaches,” and “corrupt reporters.” Police then waved a blue banner declaring the gathering an unlawful assembly and began to disperse protesters.

At one point, officers were seen blocking the entrance of a residential block of Siu Hin Court estate after some protesters were said to have fled into the building during the dispersal operation.

Multiple local media reports have put the number of arrests between 10 and 20, reportedly including two restaurant owners.

According to City Broadcasting Channel — City University of Hong Kong’s student TV station — riot police followed people they suspected of being protesters to the restaurant, but the proprietors refused them entry because they didn’t have warrants.

Reinforcements arrived, and officers arrested one man and one woman. As the the arrests were taking place, CBC reported that people could be heard yelling “you need a warrant to search private premises,” prompting one officer to reply “it’s none of your business.”

Meanwhile, reports of people and pets affected by the noxious odor on Monday have rolled in. Lawmaker Eddie Chu posted photos on Facebook sent to him by a constituent who said that his 3-year-old daughter developed mysterious rashes after walking home from kindergarten.

Chu, who is also standing in the upcoming district council elections for Yuen Long district, urged people to come forward if they have been affected by the mysterious substances.

【毒氣傷屯門兒童 …

Posted by 八鄉朱凱廸 Chu Hoi Dick on Monday, October 28, 2019

Meanwhile, local animal shelter called Hand In Paw told RTHK that some 60 cats and dogs had to be temporarily housed elsewhere after they began coughing and vomiting on Monday.

Chan Lai-man, who owns the shelter, said she noticed that a large number the cats in the shelter had started sneezing and had noses running on Monday.

“At about 5pm that day, the cats started to throw up, not just one or two, but several of them at the same time started to vomit.”

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