Hong Kong’s Mong Kok riots: Expression of popular discontent?

Police fire two warning shots, protesters burn trash

By Initium Media

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.

Shortly before 5AM, a protester with a bamboo torch. Photo by Billy.HCKowk from Initium media

Shortly before 5 am, a protester prepares to throw a bamboo torch. Photo by Billy H. C. Kowk/Initium media

 

At 7 AM, Police cleared the Mong Kok streets. One protester on Shandong Street near Yee Street was hit by the police batons -- His head bleeding and his mask lying on the ground. Photo by Lu Yi Ming from Intitium media

At 7 am, Police cleared the Mong Kok streets. One protester on Shandong Street near Yee Street was hit by the police batons — his head bleeding and his mask lying on the ground. Photo by Lu Yiming/Initium media

 

7:20 AM on Feb. 9. Protesters burned trash in various places in Mong Kok street. Photo by Lu Yi Ming from Initium media

7:20 am, protesters burned trash in various places in Mong Kok’s streets. Photo by Lu Yiming/Initium media

 

At around 7:20 AM on Feb. 9. Protesters burned trash in Mong Kok street, while riot police held shields. Photo by Lu Yi Ming from Initium media

At around 7:20 am, protesters burned trash in Mong Kok, while riot police held shields. Photo by Lu Yiming/Initium media

 

At around 7:20 AM on Feb. 9, protesters burned trash in various places in Mong Kok street. A taxi parked on the roadside was destroyed. Photo by Lu Yi Ming from Initium media

At around 7:20 am, protesters continued to burn trash in various places in Mong Kok. A taxi parked on the roadside was destroyed. Photo by Lu Yiming/Initium media

 

Shortly after 4 AM, protesters continued to burn trash in various locations in Mong Kok street. Photo by Lin from Initium media

Shortly after 4 am, protesters continued to burn trash in various locations in Mong Kok. Photo by Lam Yikfei/Initium media

 

Shortly after 5 AM, protesters with bamboo sticks as a weapon. Photo by Billy.HCKowk from Initium media

Shortly after 5 am, protesters using bamboo sticks as weapons clashed with police. Photo by Billy H.C. Kowk/Initium media

 

About 6:00 AM, protesters use a minibus stop sign as a weapon. Photo by Lu Yi Ming from Initium media

At 6:00 am, protesters use a minibus stop sign as a weapon. Photo by Lu Yiming/Initium media

 

At 2 AM, one of the protesters is lying on the ground with head injuries. Photo by Lin from Initium media

At 2 am, one of the protesters lies on the ground with head injuries. Photo by Lam Yikfei/Initium media

 

At 2 AM, police arrested a protester in Argyle street. Photo by Billy HC Kwok from Initium media

At 2 am, police arrested a protester in Argyle street. Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Initium media

 

At 2 AM, police raised a red flag "Stop Charging or We Use Force." Photo by Billy HC Kwok from Initium media

At 2 am, police raised a red flag “Stop Charging Or We Use Force.” Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Initium media

 

At 2 AM, a policeman laying in Argyle street. Photo by Billy HC Kwok from Initium media

At 2 am, a policeman laying in Argyle street. Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Initium media

 

At 2 AM, a police officer with a protester with a megaphone on the ground. Photo by Billy HC Kwok from Initium media

At 2 am, a police officer with a protester with a megaphone on the ground. Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok from Initium media

 

At 1 AM, a number of people wearing "Local Democracy Frontline" jacket clashed with riot police in Mong Kok. Photo by Billy HC Kwok from Initium media

At 1 am, a number of people wearing “Local Democracy Frontline” jacket clashed with riot police in Mong Kok. Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Initium media

 

At 2 AM, protesters in Nathan Road burned trash. Photo by Anthony Kwan from Initium media

At 2 am, protesters in Nathan Road burned trash. Photo by Anthony Kwan/Initium media

 

At 3 AM, riot police lined up in the center of Nathan Road near the bank in confrontation with protesters. Photo by Ye Jiahao from Initium media

At 3 am, riot police lined up in the center of Nathan Road near the bank in confrontation with protesters. Photo by Ye Jiahao/Initium media

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.

 



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