Many residents of Hong Kong’s North Point area were still in shock on Tuesday after clashes erupted between white-clad pro-China thugs and protesters during Monday’s rally, and fears are growing of revenge attacks.
The thugs had been brandishing sticks and attacked young protesters dressed in black on a street in North Point, but were outnumbered and fled as the protesters fought back.
The scenes were reminiscent of the anarchy in the town of Yuen Long in the north of the New Territories at the end of July. On that night more than 100 men waving steel and bamboo poles went on a rampage at midnight inside a train station and a shopping mall.
They assaulted passengers, pedestrians, journalists and a pro-democracy lawmaker as protesters returned from a rally. The violence lasted for an hour before the police finally turned up.
Many called the lack of a response from police “thinly-veiled collusion with the thugs.” Up to 45 people were injured and the scenes shocked people in Hong Kong, a city once lauded for its public order and safety.
In North Point, people are now wondering if a repeat of the bloodshed is imminent after clashes between gangsters and protesters on Monday during a city-wide strike.
Once again, the police were nowhere to be seen when a group of men wearing white shirts ambushed protesters on Monday evening. They first hurled abuse at protesters and then started battering them with wood and metal sticks as people walked along King’s Road and Java Road after being dispersed by police from Admiralty and Causeway Bay, according to local papers.
But this time it was the attackers who were roughed up and ultimately fled the scene as they were outnumbered by demonstrators, who later laid siege to a nearby residential building where some of the thugs were believed to be hiding.
Later, a man waving a chopper came out of a flat there used by a youth volunteer society and accused protesters of vandalism, according to the Orient Daily and Apple Daily.
Rumors of revenge
North Point is a traditional stronghold for pro-Beijing parties, populated by people from China’s southeastern Fujian province. It was rumored that the men in white on Monday evening also hailed from that province and either volunteered to “defend their turf” or were mobilized by associations and political outfits close to pro-Beijing businessmen and even Beijing’s liaison office in the city.
On Tuesday, rumors spread on social media that patriarchs of the Fujian communities there had been mustering people, even those from the mainland, to take revenge on the protesters for the ignominy of Monday night’s defeat.
There were also claims on social media that many flights from Fujian had been fully booked to bring in reinforcements, while businesses in North Point had been warned to close early if they wanted to avoid losses.
There were no planned protests on Tuesday in North Point or elsewhere in the city, as demonstrators take a break to plan their next move.
Running battles elsewhere
Another district in the western New Territories also turned into a battlefield on Monday evening. A group of blue-clad people attacked protesters with sticks, but were scared off when they were overwhelmed by residents and youngsters in streets in Tsuen Wan.
Some attackers were badly bruised, leaving behind a trail of blood. Police only arrived about half an hour after the clash.
On Monday, Hong Kong choked from tear gas as confrontations broke out all over the former British colony and protesters and police clashed into the night. Like previous rallies, a city-wide strike and procession during the day turned ugly and descended into running battles.
Train services were paralyzed and key roads and cross-harbor tunnels were blocked when protesters battled riot squads in various districts, including outside police stations in Admiralty, Wan Chai, North Point, Tsim Sha Tsui, Tai Po and other locations.
On the bustling Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, a Chinese flag was lowered and ditched into the sea, the second such incident within three days.