The anti-government protests continued in multiple locations around Hong Kong on Sunday with one of the most volatile happening in Kowloon’s Mong Kok area.
Starting from late afternoon, relatively small-scale flash-mob protests took place across the city. There was vandalism and arson targeting government offices, subway stations and shops which were claimed to be backed by local gangsters or pro-Beijing supporters.
A number of fistfights also broke out after disputes between groups with different political stances.
In Mong Kok, one of the busiest districts in Hong Kong, protesters blocked the roads with barricades, damaged traffic lights and painted anti-government graffiti on shops and on the road.
At 8pm, there was a loud explosion from a flower box on the sidewalk on Nathan Road near Fife Street, close to where a police vehicle was parked.
People found a plastic bag and a blue-colored object like a battery half-hidden under soil in the flower box, the Ming Pao Daily reported. A battery, circuit board, mobile phone, one phone SIM card and cables were later dug out from the soil.
The police’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau then arrived and cordoned off the area, but it was not clear if some kind of explosive device was found.
At almost the same time, 20 Molotov cocktails were thrown at the huge water barriers placed outside the Mong Kok police station, starting a fire. Riot police aided by firefighters distinguished the blaze.
At about 7pm, a vehicle parked on Dundas Street near Nathan Road was vandalized. The windshield was damaged, the windows broken and graffiti was sprayed on the empty car.
Police later confirmed it was a police vehicle used by Identification Bureau officers for a non-protest-related “burglary” case. They said protesters stole everything inside the car.
A number of fistfights also broke out throughout the day when people with opposite political stances clashed.
A woman who protesters accused of taking close-up photos of them was surrounded after refusing to give up her phone. Someone sprayed black paint on her face and others hit her head with a water bottle. Police later led her to safety.
At about midnight, a large group of unmasked protesters surrounded a man wearing a red T-shirt near the intersection of Nathan Road and Argyle Street. The man was kicked, punched and beaten up.
The man’s shirt was ripped off and he fell to the ground repeatedly, but protesters kept stomping on him. A woman shouted: “Stop it! Enough. He will die.” The attack finally stopped before riot police arrived on the scene.
Meanwhile, the news department of local broadcaster nowTV issued a statement condemning the excessive force police used on one of their news crew members, leaving a member of the news team requiring surgery and a stay in hospital after he was subdued by police.
The statement was issued after a news car driver was wounded and detained by police in the early hours of Monday, nowTV news reported. The driver was believed to have been shot in the back of the head with a beanbag round while walking to the news car, which was parked near Mong Kok police station.
At the time, riot police were conducting a clearance operation, but they suddenly subdued the driver. His reflective vest and car keys were dropped near him. Police then tied his hands behind his back with cable ties.
A nowTV reporter and some photojournalists immediately informed the riot police that the driver was working for the TV station, but they were pushed away by the officers’ shields and guns. Riot police threatened them with pepper-spray.
The broadcaster said the driver was only released after two hours when the police confirmed he had a reason to be there. The driver said he felt dizzy after being shot and said he suffered a wound to his chin. He was sent to Kwong Wah Hospital by ambulance.
The news department of nowTV condemned the excessive force police used on the driver, who alleged he was abused inside the police station by about 10 officers, even after he revealed his identity.
He suffered at least nine injuries to his forehead, elbows, legs, hands and chin and it was alleged that some injuries were sustained while he was detained inside the police station.
The TV station urged the police to use restraint and investigate the case thoroughly.