Following are the opening remarks by the Chief Superintendent of Police Public Relations Branch, Mr Hui Chun-tak, at the press conference today (October 15).
At about 9.45pm last night, a lot of protestors suddenly dashed out onto the carriageway at the junction of Lung Wo Road and Tim Wa Avenue. The illegal blockage of both east and west bound of the road severely disrupted the traffic. Some radical protestors even charged the Police cordon line, threw objects onto the road from the overpass, pushed mills barriers and large plastic boards around, and used concrete drainage covers to set up obstacles. Such behaviours were extremely irresponsible and dangerous. It put the safety of the protestors themselves and other road users at stake. The gathering was an "unlawful assembly".
For the sake of public order and public safety, at about 2.45am in the morning, Police took actions to disperse radical protestors in the unlawful assembly and to take down the obstacles. During the operation, Police repeatedly gave advice and warnings, including the display of warning banners. Regrettably, radical protestors refused to comply. They put up fierce struggle and advanced against Police cordon line. They advanced forward in an aggressive manner, kicked our officers, attacked them with umbrellas, and snatched mills barriers. Even with their arms raised, this just could hardly be a peaceful means of protest.
Police hence took determined enforcement actions with the use of minimum force. Police dispersed the protestors barehanded, using shields and pepper spray only when necessary, so as to restore public safety and public order.
Police made a total of 45 arrests, including 37 males and eight females, aged between 17 and 54. They were arrested for "unlawful assembly" and "obstructing police officers in the execution of duties". They are now being detained for investigation.
Five police officers were injured in the operation. One was pushed down by the protestors, causing dislocation of his shoulder joint. One had injury to his eye after being attacked with an umbrella.
Traffic resumed on Lung Wo Road at about 5.45am this morning. As Harcourt Road has already been blocked, Lung Wo Road is an important thoroughfare that connects the eastern and western side of Hong Kong Island. The blockage of Lung Wo Road will severely affect the traffic situation on Hong Kong Island.
Police respect the public's freedom of expression, speech and assembly. However, the unlawful assembly last night obviously went beyond the legal boundary. The unlawful behaviour of the radical protestors is not acceptable in our society. Police will deal with these illegal acts in a steadfast manner.
Police express serious concern over the TV footage showing several plainclothes police officers suspected of using excessive force during the operation this morning. We have already taken immediate actions and will conduct an investigation impartially.
The Complaints Against Police Office has already received a relevant complaint. The complainant has undergone medical examination in hospital. Police will handle the complaint in a just and impartial manner in accordance with the established procedures. The investigation result will be submitted to the Independent Police Complaints Council for scrutiny. If there is any criminality revealed, we will proceed the case in accordance with the laws.
The officers concerned will be removed from their current duties.
Hong Kong Police Force is a professional law enforcement department. In the past two weeks or so, Police officers have worked faithfully to ensure public safety, public order, and safeguard public interest. If individual Police officers are found to have used excessive force, we will certainly investigate the case without favour.
I will now talk about the situation on the roads. Yesterday, Police took actions in Admiralty and Causeway Bay to remove the large obstacles. The west bound of Hennessy Road and the east and west bound of Queensway have been re-opened. Police will not tolerate anyone setting up new obstacles or reinforcing the existing obstacles. We have made suitable deployment to step up patrol in those locations, and we will not hesitate to take enforcement actions. Anyone attempting to enlarge the illegally occupied areas are doing it at the expense of the interest of the general public.
Police operation to take down the illegal obstacles will continue. It is necessary to remove the large obstacles on the roads in Mong Kok, so that traffic could at least partially resume.
I urge those protestors who are illegally occupying the roads not to obstruct Police actions, and do not charge the Police line. Anyone doing so will be removed and even arrested.
Police will continue to discharge our duties impartially. For the sake of public interest, I urge the protestors to remove the illegal obstacles at once, so that the traffic can resume normal and the general public could go about their daily lives undisturbed.
Ends/Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Issued at HKT 18:33