Following are the opening remarks by the Senior Superintendent of Police Public Relations Branch, Mr Kong Man-keung, at the press conference today (October 16):
I will first talk about what had happened on Lung Wo Road last night and this morning. At about 11.45pm yesterday, some radical protesters illegally assembling there ignored the public safety, dashing onto Lung Wo Road, and throwing objects like water bottles on the road. Many vehicles were on the road and drivers had to brake abruptly or steer the wheel to avoid those protesters. You can imagine the dangers created. Some protesters even blocked all lanes with water barriers, attempting to obstruct this east-west major thoroughfare on the north side of Hong Kong Island. Police attended scene swiftly to remove the water barriers aside, and formed a human chain to prevent the protesters from dashing onto the road again.
At about 1.10am this morning, at the central divider on Lung Wo Road near the Tamar Park, a 38-year-old man kicked a water bottle and hit a car running on Lung Wo Road. Police arrested him for disorderly conduct in public place. In the course of arrest, a large crowd of radical protesters surrounded and charged the officers, attempting to stop the officers from escorting him away. These radical protesters scolded and humiliated our officers, causing chaos and elevating others' emotion. The officers issued repeated advice and warnings, but they refused to follow. Our officers then used pepper spray to disperse the crowd. During the incident, another male, aged 24, was also arrested for assaulting police officer. Three officers were injured in the incident.
I stress, the protesters willfully caused chaos by dashing onto the road, charged our officers carrying out our duties. Their acts of neglecting the personal safety of themselves and other people were extremely reckless and irresponsible.
Police also note that there are radical protesters advocating on the Internet the use of "guerilla" tactic to occupy and obstruct the roads in different districts, to fight against Police for the removal operation at Queensway and Yee Wo Street. I hope all protesters can understand that our removal operations aim at reducing the severe impacts on the traffic and daily life of the public as a result of the road obstruction. Police have the responsibility to protect the public's rights of using the roads. I hope all radical protesters will stop these illegal acts, breaching public order and public safety, and cater for the interests of the general public in Hong Kong.
I also note that there are people advocating the use of "flash-mob" and "harassing" tactics to obstruct and occupy the roads. At 10pm last evening, a group of youngsters wearing facemask or surgical mask rushed into the intersection between Pedder Street and Connaught Road Central, demolished police cordon line, moved rubbish bins to the road and dispersed in all directions. Some initiated the "picking up the coins" operation, throwing coins onto the roads willfully and pretending to pick them up. Some suggested "ten cents report" operation, making reports at Wan Chai Police Station. Their purpose was to provoke Police and draw away our resources. They laboured our officers and ignored their personal safety and safety of others, they only wished to cause traffic congestion and chaos.
These create serious threat to the safety of themselves and other road users. They are reckless, selfish, extremely irresponsible and in severe breach of public order. They also cause hardship to our committed officers who have been working for an extended period of time. The services we provide for the general public will be affected. The public will not accept these illegal and manpower-wasting acts. Police strongly condemn these acts.
It is unlawful to make such incitement via social media on the Internet. Hong Kong is a city under the Rule of Law. Every citizen should obey the laws and most of the laws are applicable in the cyber world. Whether in the real world or in the social media, anyone committing illegal acts must bear the criminal liability and will be sanctioned. Police will collect evidence and conduct investigation into all illegal acts. We will not eliminate the possibility of arrest action.
About the incident involving plainclothes officers, appearing in media footage and allegedly using excessive force during the removal operation on Lung Wo Road. I reiterate, the Force are very concerned about the incident and understand the public concern.
As a result of the enquiries by the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO), it is confirmed that seven police officers took actions at scene and arrested the complainant. The seven officers have now been interdicted from duty.
The complainant threw liquid of unknown nature from height on Lung Wo Road and splashed onto many officers there. When our officers came to intercept him, the complainant put up resistance. He was arrested for unlawful assembly, obstructing police Officer in execution of duty and assaulting police officer. CAPO has met with the complainant in order to take a written statement from him. However, he has not yet given a statement at this stage.
The designated Special Investigation Team of CAPO will investigate the case thoroughly. The Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) has also activated the Serious Complaints Mechanism. CAPO will maintain close liaison with IPCC and report progress of investigation regularly.
Police reiterate, Hong Kong Police is a law-abiding and professional law enforcement agency. If any individual officer is suspected of using excessive force, Police will seriously investigate the case in a just and impartial manner. Police will not tolerate any illegal acts.
I also want to talk about the situation in Mong Kok. Police have stressed in the past few days, obstruction of the major roads in the area has instigated great grievances of the residents and shopkeepers nearby. There is increasing chance for further confrontations. Mong Kok remains as a high risk area.
I note that there were illegal road occupiers attempting to build a large scaffolding of several metres high last night. Obviously, they put the safety of life and property of the residents in the district at stake.
Police operation to remove obstacles will continue. I urge those people illegally occupying the roads to remove the obstacles as soon as possible. Do not obstruct or even charge our officers. Police do not want to see further confrontations. We will remove anyone obstructing or charging our officers. We will not eliminate the possibility of arrest action.
At last, I wish to conclude my key points. I advise all radical protesters, do not ignore our call for public safety and public order and commit more aggressive illegal acts. Do not block other roads, affect the public's daily life, and even incite others to commit illegal acts. I also urge the illegal road occupiers in Mong Kok to leave in an orderly and peaceful manner. Police will continue to serve the public with diligence, determination and impartiality.
Ends/Thursday, October 16, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:01