Hong Kong police used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse a few hundred protesters in Kowloon’s Mong Kok on Monday night after people gathered outside a subway station to protest against the violence riot squad officers used inside a train carriage on the weekend.
At 9pm on Monday, about 200 people carried flowers and left them outside one of the exits of the Prince Edward MTR station on Nathan Road in a show of support to those who were injured by riot police on Saturday.
The subway exit is next to the Mong Kok Police Station and the protesters gathered there and chanted slogans. The protesters were furious and criticized the excessive force used and the alleged indiscriminate beating of passengers in the train carriage.
They shone laser beams and threw eggs at the police station and set up barricades on some lanes of Prince Edward Road West and Nathan Road.
At about midnight, riot police charged the crowd and used pepper spray on protesters gathered outside the police station. A tear gas canister was fired at the crowd and at least two people were arrested.
While this was going on, a young man in a white shirt who was across the road questioned a group of riot police, asking them “where is your conscience?” He was then chased by at least a dozen officers, who hit him with their batons and arrested him. Blood was seen coming from his head.
Police continued charging the crowd and a large number of people were stopped and forced to kneel by the roadside.
At least 30 were arrested, including Keith Fong, president of the Hong Kong Baptist University’s student union, for alleged suspicion of theft. Fong’s classmate said he had picked up a purse at a rally in the afternoon and had already contacted the owner through WhatsApp and planned to return it.
Video footage of riot police attacking protesters and passengers inside the MTR train on Saturday night drew heavy criticism. Police were seen storming onto the platform and then using pepper spray and batons inside the train carriage. A total of 41 people, including protesters and train passengers, were injured and five are in a serious condition.
Many Hong Kong people went online and said the scenes resembled the violence when hundreds of gangsters wearing white attacked protesters and passengers with rattan canes and steel poles in Yuen Long MTR Station on July 21.
People were also furious with the police for refusing to let first-aid workers enter the train station to treat the injured passengers.
Local media did a live broadcast of the scene inside the train, which showed at least three people bleeding from their heads and a number of others sitting on the platform waiting for treatment.
At that time, the railway operator closed all the exits. A first-aid volunteer was seen crying outside the subway station, begging the police to let him enter to treat the wounded people. His pleas were refused. Police also dispersed reporters and did not allow them to stay inside the station.
It took two-and-a-half hours to send some of the injured to hospital for treatment.
Since then, rumors have been circulating on social media that someone may have died inside the station due to the excessive force used by police.
A police spokesperson refuted the rumors on Monday during a daily media briefing, saying the closure of the train station was because police needed to stop the illegal acts taking place inside. However, they admitted that seven of those injured had to wait for two-and-a-half hours to be sent to hospital.
On Monday afternoon, about 400 staff from the Queen Mary Hospital formed a human chain inside the building to protest against what they called the excessive use of force by police.
The participating medical staff slammed the police, saying it was unacceptable that it took more than two hours for those injured at the train station to be sent to the hospital. They also slammed the police force for violating international regulations by refusing to let a first-aid volunteer enter the station.