Hong Kong’s Mong Kok riots: Expression of popular discontent?
Police fire two warning shots, protesters burn trash
HONG KONG — On the night of Feb. 8, hundreds of protesters angered by the clearing of illegal food sellers at an intersection by the government’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) gathered in Mong Kok, a working-class district in Kowloon across the water from the city’s financial district.
By the early hours of Feb. 9, the incident had erupted into a violent clash between police and protesters. At 2:08 am, protesters threw large objects — wood from shipping pallets and trash —at police. At 2:14 am, a police officer fired two warning shots into the air. At 2:20 am, protesters began to burn trash in the streets. Clashes continued on until sunrise. At 5:30 am, Mong Kok’s MTR station was closed. As of 7 am, police and protesters were still observed engaging in confrontations.
The Chinese New Year clashes were the most violent since Hong Kong’s pro-democracy “Umbrella Movement” of 2014.
At 7:30 am, Acting District Commander Yau Siu-kei told assembled media in Mong Kok that the riots continued overnight, and urged the public to avoid visiting the area. Yau didn’t rule out the possibility that the riot was an organized and premeditated event. Police arrested 23 men and 1 woman, aged between 17-70. They were taken in on suspicion of assaulting police officers, resisting arrest or disorderly conduct. At least 44 policemen and one reporter were injured during the riots.
This article was first published in Chinese on Feb. 9, 2016 by The Initium Media, a Hong Kong-based digital media company. Asia Times has translated it with permission with editing for brevity and clarity.
Translation by Asia Times.