As protesters marched against the just-enforced national security law Wednesday, police conducted hundreds of stops and searches—including of a man they accused of inciting Hong Kong independence.
His crime? Chanting “Long live Liverpool.”
According to In-media, police were checking a group of protesters outside the Causeway Bay MTR station when a man across the street suddenly yelled, “Long live Liverpool!” Others around him cheered and echoed the chant.
Police then rushed towards the noise and demanded to know who was chanting. Officers then dragged the man—who was wearing a Liverpool shirt, no less—over to where police were carrying out checks and began to search him too. He was released after 10 minutes.
The man told an In-media that police accused him of inciting Hong Kong independence. He said he has been a Liverpool fan for 30 years and was so elated that the team had won the English Premier League that he just “felt an urge” to voice his feelings.
Familiar scenes returned to the streets of Hong Kong on Wednesday afternoon as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters who blocked roads, dismantled barricades and set fires in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay. Protesters also vandalized a Starbucks outlet in Tin Hau. (The coffee chain became a target last year after the daughter of the franchise owner denounced demonstrators as “rioters.”)
For months, protests in the city had significantly calmed largely due to the COVID-19 outbreak. But the hurried passing—and implementation—of the national security law, the text of which was only made available last night, triggered thousands in angry protest on the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to mainland China.
The law was put into effect at 11pm yesterday. Under the new legislation, offenders stand to face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if found guilty of acts of secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces.
Earlier in the day, pro-democracy activists marched west from Causeway Bay chanting “five demands, not one less,” a popular protest slogan from last year’s demonstrations.
Police said at around 4pm that at least 180 people had been arrested, including seven for suspected violations of the national security law—one of whom was found to be in possession of a Hong Kong independence flag.
At least two pan-democrat lawmakers, Andrew Wan and Ray Chan, were also arrested.
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