Police, protesters clash at Mei Foo estate during protest over proposed quarantine facility

Plainclothes police officer hits a protester with a baton at a protest at a housing estate in Mei Foo. Screengrab via Facebook video/Flash Media.
Plainclothes police officer hits a protester with a baton at a protest at a housing estate in Mei Foo. Screengrab via Facebook video/Flash Media.

At least eight people were arrested outside a private housing estate in Kowloon last night after scores of people gathered in the area to protest plans to turn a nearby hotel into a quarantine zone for suspected cases of Wuhan coronavirus.

According to a statement by the police this morning, “rioters” had gathered near the Mei Foo bus terminus for two consecutive nights to block roads with trash cans and other objects. The statement adds that some threw wooden chairs from a footbridge and targeted a police vehicle.

The protest began at 7:30pm, days after it was announced that the Heritage Lodge — a boutique hotel in Lai Chi Kok that’s more than 100 years old and used to be hospital — would be turned into the city’s fourth quarantine site for coronavirus cases. (The other three sites are the Lady MacLehose Holiday Village in Sai Kung, the Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village in Sai Wan Shan, and the Po Leung Kuk Jockey Club Pak Tam Chung Holiday Camp, also in Sai Kung.)

The hotel is about a 10-minute walk from Mei Foo MTR station and Mei Foo Sun Chuen, one of the largest private housing estates in the city.

Apple Daily reports that about 100 people gathered in the area on Sunday evening, and began blocking the roads with trash cans at around 9pm.

It was around this point that at least four officers disguised as protesters were filmed hitting two other protesters, some with batons, while onlookers can be heard yelling, “They’re fighting! That’s enough!”

At that point that several riot police officers appeared waving a blue banner declaring the gathering an illegal assembly.

Some photos from the scene showed pools of blood on the ground where the two protesters had been hit.

Police remained outside the housing estate until the early hours of this morning, prompting an unnamed security guard to come out and berate the officers, who respond by shining flashlights at his face.

“I’m asking you guys really politely that I want to know who’s your commander,” said the man, who has since become a viral sensation.

In a video filmed by Stand News, he’s heard asking, “Why are you guys acting so evil? Don’t I have the right to ask? I have the right to ask.”

He’s later heard saying: “Don’t you guys know that you’re disturbing people? Don’t you know what time it is?”

Police left the area in the early hours of this morning, and Apple Daily reports at least eight people — including a district councillor — were arrested last night.

This is not the first time a protest has erupted over plans to use a building close to residents as a quarantine zone.

On Jan. 26, protesters set fire to the lobby of an empty, newly-completed public housing complex in Fanling that had been earmarked by the authorities as a temporary quarantine zone.

In one i-Cable report from that day, residents in the area said they were unhappy about the decision to make Fai Ming Estate a quarantine zone because it’s so close to a number of other housing estates, adding that no public consultation was done by the government on the issue.

Fifteen people in Hong Kong have so far tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus.

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