Police chief: Treatment of reporters wasn’t ‘professional’ during Mother’s Day protest

A group of journalists, who were clearly wearing high-vis neon vests, were detained by police while they reported on the protest in Mong Kok on Sunday night. Screengrab: Hong Kong Police Force via Facebook
A group of journalists, who were clearly wearing high-vis neon vests, were detained by police while they reported on the protest in Mong Kok on Sunday night. Screengrab: Hong Kong Police Force via Facebook

Hong Kong’s chief of police, Chris Tang, said during a district council meeting yesterday that police officers should have been “more professional” towards reporters at Sunday’s street protest in Mong Kok, and conceded that the officers had exhibited “undesirable” behavior.

Footage taken during the protest showed riot police officers containing journalists within a small area — also known as kettling — and forcing them to kneel before spraying them with pepper at close range. The reporters were denied urgent medical care and water by police officers. Apple Daily also reported that one of their journalists was choked by a policeman for 10-20 seconds and had to be hospitalized for her injuries.

During a meeting of the Yuen Long District Council yesterday morning, lawmaker Roy Kwong — who was pinned against the ground by his head by a police officer and arrested for disorderly behavior during the protest — asked Tang if he would apologize for his officers’ “terrorist-like attack”.

While Tang stopped short of apologizing, he conceded that the police could have acted in a more professional manner, and said that the force would “review” its officers’ actions. In response to a joint statement from eight journalists’ associations that called on the police to stop “trampling on press freedom”, Tang said he hoped to meet with the associations in question and discuss potential strategies to “improve the situation” for both the press and police.

On Sunday afternoon, hundreds of pro-democracy protesters conducted sing-along demonstrations in malls across the city, which culminated in a street protest in Mong Kok that continued into the night. Over the course of the day, police arrested 230 people, aged 12 to 65. At least 18 people were hospitalized for injuries related to Sunday’s protests.

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