At a press briefing on Tuesday, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) protested and strongly condemned the police of using excessive force and hindered journalists from reporting. The reporters wore reflective vests and knocked their pens against their helmets in protest of alleged mistreatment by frontline police.
Lam Yin-pong, Executive Committee member of HKJA, stated that while covering protests in recent weeks, police had pointed strong lights at reporters’ eyes and cameras, pushed them with shields, insulted and swore at them, and arbitrarily arrested them.
At the briefing, Senior Police Superintendent Kong said the force had used around 800 tear gas rounds, 20 sponge grenades and 140 rubber bullets against protesters On Monday. A total of 148 people were arrested, including 95 men and 53 women, aged between 13 and 63.
From June 9 to the morning of August 5, the police deployed about 1,000 tear gas rounds, 150 sponge grenades and 160 rubber bullets during the protests. A total of 420 people were arrested, including 347 men and 73 women, aged between 14 and 76, charged with riots, illegal assembly, assaulting police, obstructing police officers from performing duties and possessing offensive weapons, etc.
Groups of men in North Point attacked protesters with sticks and knives on Monday night. Kong said officers were unable to get on site to deal with the attack until 11pm, 4 hours after they were called at around 7pm. He said this was owing to the number of protesters surrounding North Point police station.
When asked why the police were often criticised for using tear gas in residential areas and even in the absence of protesters. The police said that “they hope not to use tear gas in residential areas”, emphasizing use of “extreme restraint” when using force.
The police expressed concern about the indiscriminate attack of residents by mob dressed in white in the Yuen Long West Rail Station. A total of 23 people were arrested for suspected illegal assembly. However, no one has been charged yet.
When asked why answers are not forth-coming on the specific number of tear gas canisters and munition used at each protest after more than 40 days, Kong said that the specific figures are yet to be confirmed and will be announced later. After repeated questioning by reporters on the use of expired tear gas, Kong said only that the use of tear gas will follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure safety.
Journalists asked lots of questions but got few satisfactory answers at the police news briefing.