Dozens of angry protesters have gathered in Sheung Shui this evening after videos began circulating online this afternoon appearing to show men beating pro-democracy demonstrators with metal rods.
Video began circulating on social media platforms and apps like Telegram showing a group of at least 10 men — some with face masks — wielding metals rods and beating people wearing black, the color of choice for anti-government protesters.
According to Stand News, the incident is said to have taken place close to North District Town Hall, which yesterday was the scene of a clash in which pro-Beijing loyalists and pro-democracy protesters hurled bricks at each other, resulting in an elderly man being sent to hospital in a critical condition after being hit in the head with a projectile.
In one video circulating online, the men with long rods first attack a man carrying a backpack before walking away. A man off-camera can be heard remarking “that’s an extendable baton,” which as of September has been issued to off-duty police officers (though similar batons have also recently been spotted in the hands of civilians).
Other videos show a man in a white shirt violently grab a woman dressed in black, holding on to her by either or her hair or her shirt collar.
In one video posted by a youth media group called Spark, the woman in black can be heard yelling “help me!” as others from above look on and yell “don’t hit people!”
In a second video of the incident, onlookers can be heard yelling at the woman “what’s your name?”, before the man in white drags the woman off.
According to on.cc, police didn’t arrive at the scene until about 2:20pm, more than two hours after they said they received initial reports, prompting some protesters to label the incident “another 721,” a reference to the brutal attack on pro-democracy protesters, commuters and journalists at Yuen Long MTR station by a white-shirted mob on July 21. That incident caused a further erosion in public faith in the police force after officers took at more than 30 minutes to arrive at the brutal onslaught.
Police confirmed in a press conference today that they received a report about the Sheung Shui incident at around 12pm, and attributed some of the blame for police not responding quickly enough to protesters blocking roads.
“Sometimes there may be road blockages, and nearly 100 black-clad protesters at scenes shouting loudly or doing some disorderly conduct, which may affect work at scene,” Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung said today.
When asked why it took so long for police to respond, Kong said he didn’t “have sufficient information at this moment to provide to you.” As for whether the baton-wielding men could have been off-duty officers, Kong said the model seen in the video was not the same as the one issued to officers.