Police say officers right to lend suspect a shield - RTHK
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Police say officers right to lend suspect a shield

2019-09-16 HKT 18:10
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  • A man suspected of attacking protesters in North Point on Sunday was given a police shield to hide behind. Photo: RTHK
    A man suspected of attacking protesters in North Point on Sunday was given a police shield to hide behind. Photo: RTHK
Timmy Sung reports
The police have shot down allegations that they enforced the law selectively during clashes between pro-Beijing and anti-government protesters on Sunday, as they backed the decision to give one suspected attacker an officer's shield so he could hide his face.

At their daily press briefing, the force said it was appropriate for officers to hand over part of their protective gear, because the man in question, believed to be a police supporter, didn't want people to know who he is was.

Photos of the man hiding behind the shield provoked fury among many social media users, especially when officers are often seen ripping the face masks off young protesters they arrest.

Others vented their anger over officers apparently letting groups of pro-Beijing men who had attacked others go free, while young people wearing black were arrested. Officers were also spotted shaking hands with some of the suspected attackers.

But chief superintendent John Tse denied there was any special treatment for police and government supporters, saying just because some weren't arrested on the spot during the disturbances in North Point and Fortress Hill, it doesn't mean officers weren't enforcing the law.

Tse said the priority had been for officers to prevent the situation from deteriorating.

He said 29 people were arrested on Sunday, seven of them residents of the area, including a man who was seen brandishing a folding chair, and two men suspected of attacking reporters.

"The police strongly condemn all acts of violence and we will investigate all cases, seriously, regardless of one's political stance," Tse said.

He added that around 80 Molotov cocktails were thrown during the clashes on Hong Kong Island on Sunday.

Meanwhile, senior superintendent Steve Li also defended the arrest of a Baptist University student reporter on suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon.

He said the student was stopped and searched after he was seen wandering around with a group of protesters, and a nine-inch sharp knife was later seized from his belongings.

The arrest prompted a protest at Baptist University on Monday, with the arrested student's friends saying he was only carrying the knife to cut mooncakes for them.