A man who allegedly brandished a chopper at journalists and people in North Point was allowed to use a police shield to cover his face as he was taken away. Photo: RTHK

A number of fights broke out on Hong Kong’ streets and in shopping malls over the past weekend, some between pro- and anti-government groups and others involving people alleged to be triads or gangsters from the mainland.

Fights broke out in Hong Kong on Sunday night involving middle-aged men wearing white who attacked people while riot police were present. The fighting started in the evening after a banned rally had been held in the afternoon and a number of people were injured.

Scattered groups of protesters retreated to North Point and Fortress Hill on Hong Kong Island after confrontations with police outside the government headquarters in Admiralty in the afternoon.

The clashes started at about 8pm and were instigated by a group of about 200 men wearing white and without the face masks favored by protesters. The men spoke with Putonghua accents or with Fujianese dialects and some carried folding chairs, pipes and other objects. They gathered in North Point and Fortress Hill and some stood right in front of the riot police.

Police initially intervened after the men started arguing with a group of people wearing black inside the Fortress Hill MTR station, but then a brawl broke out between two groups. Police rushed to separate them, but the two groups kept yelling at each other as they went along King’s Road.

At one point, some of the men were filmed using a folding chair to beat up a black-clad protester inside the MTR station as reporters yelled at them to stop.

Police then moved in again, taking away at least three people, including a young man dressed in black.

Another man wearing white yelled “Fujianese, come out” and then chased down people dressed in black on the streets. Some of the men later targeted reporters who were filming the clashes.

A cameraman from local broadcaster TVB said he was kicked in the thigh by one of the men who had confronted him and demanded he stop filming. A reporter from the TV station was also spat on. A reporter from Apple Daily suffered a minor hand injury when a man snatched her phone away. Riot police then arrived and restored control.

Despite the fact that a large number of police were patrolling the area, sporadic fights continued breaking out in the streets. Some people dressed in black chased and beat people, with many requiring immediate medical assistance from volunteer first-aid workers.

At 9:30pm, at least three men were seen brandishing choppers at journalists and passersby on Ming Yuen Western Street. A man was filmed pouring a tin of what appeared to be some sort of flammable liquid onto the street.

Police were quickly on the scene, prompting the men to retreat into a building. After about 45 minutes, officers emerged and led several people to a police van. One of the men was allowed to use a police shield to cover his face while he was being taken away.

A man wearing white and brandishing a chopper in North Point. Photo: Screengrab from HKCNEWS.com

A longtime resident of Fortress Hill told RTHK that he witnessed dozens of people wearing white shirts and walking alongside the police before some of them beat young protesters with chairs and other objects. Police did intervene, but they did not arrest the attackers.

North Point is known as “Little Fujian” because many people from the Chinese province live in the area. A number of violent clashes happened there in August, including when a group of men in white attacked protesters with bamboo sticks. There were rumors on social media that a group of mainland Chinese traveled to Hong Kong from Fujian province to attack the “black-shirt people,” referring to anti-extradition bill protesters.

Read: Police, protesters clash in three HK districts

Read: HK protesters fear revenge attacks by thugs

Hospital authorities said eight people were injured throughout the day, including three who were in a serious condition.

A video clip on social media showed that a man in a blue shirt fainted after clashing with a group of people dressed in black in Wan Chai. He was surrounded and beaten by them and his face and back were badly bruised. Paramedics arrived and he was sent to Ruttonjee Hospital in a critical condition before being stabilized and transferred to Queen Mary Hospital.

The day before, another large-scale brawl broke out between pro and anti-government groups in Kowloon Bay with police separating them repeatedly and arresting some.

Hundreds of people waving national and Hong Kong SAR flags held a rally and chanted pro-government slogans and sang the national anthem at the Amoy Plaza mall. Soon after, a group of anti-extradition bill supporters gathered in the area, shouting counter slogans.

The shouting of slogans quickly turned into a brawl inside the shopping mall.

The police arrived and separated the two sides and arrested a few people. Some bystanders accused police of only detaining anti-government protesters and treating the pro-Beijing side leniently. Several men who claimed to be triad members threatened bystanders, but police let them go.

Twenty-five people were treated after Saturday’s clashes, the Hospital Authority said. Police did not disclose the number of people arrested.

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