Police chased student protesters away from a high school in the New Territories this afternoon, tackling at least two to the ground, after they gathered outside the building following accusations that the school’s principal had locked in 100 students who tried to join a citywide class boycott the day before.
Video circulating online shows dozens of young people — mostly high school students in uniform — standing outside the gates of the Confucian Tai Shing Ho Kwok Pui Chun College in Tai Po yelling “come out and talk to us.” The words “F*** Leung Chau-wan,” a reference to the school’s headmistress, can be seen graffitied on a nearby wall.
As two police vehicles pull up to the scene, the protesters begin to walk away, with officers following. The person filming the video can be heard saying, “An officer just put on some gloves, I don’t know what they’re going to do next.”
Suddenly, the officers break into a run, heading off the group of students and grabbing some. As students begin to run as well, other officers give chase, with one tackling two students to the ground, and detaining one of them. Other officers head off more students, and can be seen appearing to question them.
Yesterday, around 100 students from Confucian Ho Kwok Pui Chun College were locked up in a classroom bcuz they wanted to join the student strike. Today, a group of students from other schools tried to give support to students there. The headmaster called in the police. #Hongkong https://t.co/4fZyiYB289 pic.twitter.com/51IkPdg6jt
— Badcanto (@Badcanto) September 3, 2019
Photos posted online shortly afterwards show one of the detained teens — who appears to be one of the boys who were tackled — bleeding from the lip.
The short two-minute clip came from a 40-minute Facebook Live video by Hong Kong-based production company Cupid Producer Ltd.
The incident comes one day after it was reported that the school allegedly locked in about 100 of its students who were trying to leave campus to attend a citywide boycott, which saw tens of thousands of students skip class yesterday to pressure the government to respond to the demands of the city’s months-long pro-democracy movement.
A recording posted online purported to show the school’s headmistress, Leung Chau-wan, telling students who were being kept in a room that they weren’t allowed to pick and choose what they learned or how they spent their school days.
“You don’t have the freedom to go ‘I want to do that, or that,'” she says in the recording. “You’ve never had the freedom to do that; why do you think you can do that today?”
Someone can be heard asking, “so are you saying we don’t have freedom?”, to which Leung responds, “I’m not saying you don’t have freedom, you just don’t have absolute freedom.”
“If you think you need freedom, then you don’t have to be a student here,” she adds. “I’m sorry, today we’ve arranged for you to sit here.”
Leung was also heard on the recording threatening to send the names of students who boycotted classes to the Education Bureau, saying “every school has been asked to do this.”
RTHK reports that after the recording emerged, students, alumni, and members of the public gathered outside the school last night to demand answers.
The outlet reports that Leung agreed to meet with them, but didn’t confirm or deny whether it was her voice in the recording, saying she hadn’t listened to it and simply wanted to give the “proper context.”
When asked about her comment that students who want freedom should leave, she replied, “I said to students that if you want this particular freedom [to boycott classes], I’m sorry, we don’t know what to do, then you can choose not to be a student here.”
She told the crowd that she only handed over the number of students who boycotted classes, not their names, and added that if a student had a signed letter from their parents giving them consent to boycott classes, then that was OK.
After the meeting, more than a hundred people remained outside the school, preventing teachers from leaving and prompting dozens of riot police to arrive in Tai Po.
RTHK reports that Leung addressed protesters and reiterated that she did not name the students who took part in the boycott to the Education Bureau.
Teachers were eventually allowed to leave, and police and protesters left the scene.
At a 4pm press briefing today, Chief Superintendent John Tse Chun-chung from the police’s public relations branch, said that they received at least four calls from parents in the area about noise from the student protesters at around 8am this morning.
Tse said that when police arrived, they saw around 50 people who gathered outside the school who ran away as officers headed towards them, prompting officers to give chase “just to conduct inquiries.”
“During the process, several people — including our officers — fell on the ground because of the slippery floor,” he said.
Officers at the press conference dismissed suggestions from reporters that they tackled students to the ground in that incident, with Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung also from PPRB saying: “I do not agree with the word ‘tackle’ as we’re not playing rugby here,” adding that the officer probably extended his arm.
Tse confirmed that some people were injured and sent to hospital for treatment, and no arrests were made.