Hong Kong: A total of 157 people, some as young as 13 years old, were arrested during the protests over the weekend, police said on Monday (Sep 9).
Speaking to reporters at a media conference, Hong Kong Police’s public relations chief Chief Superintendent Tse Chun-chung said 157 people were arrested during the protests between 5pm on Friday and 8am on Monday.
Of the 157, 125 were men and 32 were women, and they were aged between 13 and 63 years old.
“Their offences include unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons, criminal damage, loitering and assaulting police officers,” he added.
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Violence engulfed Hong Kong over the weekend, with protests at Hong Kong Airport on Saturday afternoon before demonstrators hit Mong Kok police station in the evening.
On Sunday, protesters marched to the US Consulate to urge Congress to pass an Act on human rights in Hong Kong.
After the march, demonstrators moved from the Central business district to Wan Chai and Causeway Bay, setting fires and creating barricades in running battles against the police.
As the evening set in, police chased groups of protesters who vandalised MTR stations, smashing glass panels, CCTV cameras and setting fires at station entrances.
“Over the weekend, as many as 40 traffic lights were damaged across the city and many MTR stations were left in ruins,” Chief Superintendent Tse said.
“Such random and rampant destruction of infrastructure seriously affects the livelihood of ordinary citizens."
He appealed directly to the protesters, saying: "Please also spare some thought for the vulnerable groups, like the disabled and people in wheelchairs, who are innocent victims suffering in silence. The reconstruction of infrastructure does not happen overnight.”
OFFICERS USED "APPROPRIATE FORCE"
In response to a reporter's question about officers using pepper spray against journalists "without warning or provocation" during an incident in Mong Kok on Saturday, Tse said that "appropriate force" was used and that it was directed at protesters, not media.
"Our officers indeed, from the videos, I can see, they did ask politely for the reporters not to stay close to them and reminded them to move away (to) a certain distance.
"As our officers had to disperse the protesters behind the reporters, they had to use appropriate force such as pepper spray at that moment, which we consider to be appropriate," he said.
"We have no bad intent to use pepper spray because, at the time, I'm sure that officers are using that to keep a distance, not only with the reporters but other people at the scene," said Tse.
At the press conference, Senior Superintendent of Media Liaison and Communication Kong Wing-cheung also assured the public that Hong Kong's police officers remained "professional and disciplined in every single operation".
"Every one of our police force who is deployed on the ground has received professional training concerning their deployment and duties," said Kong.