Arrest tally soars past 1,100 after weekend of intense clashes

Screengrab via Facebook video.
Screengrab via Facebook video.

Nearly 160 people were arrested over a weekend that saw some of the most intense clashes to take place in Hong Kong since the current pro-democracy movement kicked off, bringing the total of those arrested since June to more than 1,100.

In an at-times testy press conference this afternoon, police confirmed that 159 people — 132 men and 27 women, aged 13 to 58 — were arrested on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and that the total number of people arrested since extradition bill protests began in earnest on June 9 now stands at 1,117 people.

Police told reporters that about 100 petrol bombs had been thrown by protesters across the city over the weekend.

There were tense exchanges between police and press this afternoon after officers refused to apologize for an incident in Prince Edward MTR station that saw dozens of riot police charge through the station and beat protesters and commuters on Saturday evening.

Police were faulted for using heavy-handed force against people they didn’t even bother to arrest. During a tense exchange at a 4pm press briefing this afternoon (about 35 minutes into the video below), an RTHK reporter asked police how many of the people who were hit by officers inside the train carriage were actually arrested for protesting, and that if none of them had been arrested, would the force apologize to those who were injured.

Responding, Assistant Commissioner of Police Operations Mak Chin-ho said he didn’t agree with the way the question’s phrasing, leading to a heated back-and-forth between police and protesters that went on for some 20 minutes.

The comments came hours after Security Secretary John Lee stood by the city’s police force at a morning press briefing when asked about the same incident.

“I’m proud of the HK police force, they remain Asia’s finest, because despite the dangers and the difficulties they’re faced with, they still discharge their statutory duties with courage and commitment,” Lee said, adding that officers have shown “strong restraint” in the face of attacks from protesters.

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