Sunday, January 26, 2020

Protesting flash mobs cause chaos in Hong Kong

Aug 12. 2019
Traffic cones are left by protesters to block the entrance to Cross-Harbour Tunnel in Kowloon, Hong Kong during illegal processions, Aug 10, 2019. (Photo: China Daily)
Traffic cones are left by protesters to block the entrance to Cross-Harbour Tunnel in Kowloon, Hong Kong during illegal processions, Aug 10, 2019. (Photo: China Daily)
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Hong Kong, once widely known for its bustling and orderly streets, experienced new chaos as anti-government protesters used a new tactic and launched waves of guerrilla-style attacks using flash mobs in different locations over the weekend.

After police earlier beefed up actions against the protestors, the black-clad protesters seemed to adopt another tactic to avoid confrontations with police. They switched locations quickly after erecting barricades on the roads to block traffic and vandalise public properties, including metal railings, drain covers and pavements. On Saturday alone, they mounted attacks on at least seven locations south from Tai Po to Hung Hom.

The protesters swiftly moved from place to place, staying about half an hour at every stop. They provoked police with insulting language and laser pointers, but quickly retreated once riot police formed cordons.

After having a taste of victory on Saturday, the protestors continued with the tactic on Sunday by constantly stirring up trouble in at least five sites on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon West.

Some people in Hong Kong have expressed impatience with the sustained disruptions since mid-June, as their jobs and daily lives are affected.

Leung, who manages Yuen Kee Restaurant on Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay, said business was down by at least 30 per cent since mid-June. The restaurant had to close when the protesters started showing up in the district, Leung said.

Trapped in a restaurant in Causeway Bay for nearly two hours during a standoff between police and protestors, a man surnamed Wai said people’s lives had been seriously affected by the protests.

When the radicals blocked the Hung Hom Cross-Harbour Tunnel on Saturday, the fifth time in a week, a staff member blasted the protesters for having impeded her work and urged them to leave the city if they really felt so dissatisfied.

"If you [the protesters] are so dissatisfied [with Hong Kong], then you should emigrate to whichever country you like. Why do you still stay here?" the woman said.

Affected by the protesters' rally in Tai Po on Saturday, many shops closed for the day, with bus services also suspended for hours.

A local resident surnamed Chan said he was quite angry about the inconveniences caused. Questioning the goals of such disturbing actions, Chan warned that that there will be only a "lose-lose situation" if it continued.

Compared with previous protests, this weekend's movements appeared to be more unscripted, or even aimless. Protesters frequently stopped ongoing actions to discuss the next step. Many of them seemed to have no idea of what they were going to do but appeared to follow whoever led the way. This made it very difficult for the news media to report the events.

Employees of a street food shop near Causeway Bay declined to comment on the protest while they pulled down the store's shutters when protestors entered the neighbourhood. They told China Daily that they didn't want to give interviews because they were afraid of vindictive consequences.

During the operation on Saturday, HKSAR police arrested 16 people for unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons, assaulting a police officer and obstructing a police officer in the execution of duties.

To date, a total of nine police officers have suffered eye injuries as hundreds of protesters aimed laser pointers at them. Among them, three were hurt on Saturday.

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