Locals protested at a police base in Tuen Mun yesterday after residents reported a strange, irritating smell that some claimed was caused by tear gas testing at the facility, an allegation police denied — before responding to the impromptu demonstration with actual tear gas.
According to Ming Pao, it all began at about 3:30pm when people living on Ming Kam Road began to report strange smells in the area, with some residents complaining of feeling unwell.
Yuen Hok-sum, the principal of the Hong Chi Morninghope School, told the newspaper that when parents arrived at the school to pick up their children, his staff had to distribute masks to parents and students because some complained that their throats had started to feel irritated, even though they couldn’t smell anything unusual.
The fire department went to the scene, and some people received treatment by paramedics, but no one was sent to hospital.
Some residents, meanwhile, said that the fumes smelled like tear gas, and claimed that they were coming from the Tai Hing Operational Base on Tsun Wen Road, with some concluding that police were testing tear gas or other chemical substances at the base.
Angry residents then gathered outside the facility to demand answers at about 8:30pm before moving to nearby Leung Wan Street at around 9:30pm to chant slogans at a contingent of riot police.
Police made multiple posts to their social media channels, with one saying that after a preliminary investigation, they were unable to determine what the source of the smell was, but that they hadn’t used tear gas in the area around that time.
They also published a second social media post urging people to leave the area, and a third and final post saying that protesters had thrown a petrol bomb into a restaurant.
With the crowd reportedly resorting to vandalism, police fired tear gas shortly after 10pm.
Read more Hong Kong protest coverage at Coconuts HK.
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