Riot in Kowloon sees parts of Mong Kok in lockdown

Riot in Kowloon sees parts of Mong Kok in lockdown

Police fire warning shots, battle protesters after street hawker crackdown ends in chaos


Mong Kok in lockdown.
Photo: Ben Pang

There were angry scenes in Mong Kok last night when food and hygiene officials tried to stop hawkers selling food in Portland Street. The hawkers protested, throwing flower pots and bottles at the officials and the unrest grew. 

So, yeah:

  • Riots broke out in Mong Kok on the first night of Chinese New year.
  • They started when health officials tried to shut down food hawkers in Portland street.
  • Order has been restored.
  • 23 people were arrested, including an election candidate from Hong Kong Indigenous group.
  • 48 officers were injured
  • 4 journalists were hurt         

Police arrived on the scene and tried to clear the crowds. When they police were pelted with stones and bottles, they donned protective gear. Things escalated when police tried to move in a portable ladder.  

The crowd began throwing pallets and rocks at the police and a senior officer was injured.

Around 2am, police drew their weapons and fired warning shots.

Sources said the protesters seemed to be well prepared, with homemade shields, goggles,  helmets and gloves. They were gathered in groups that set fire to rubbish bins.

Protesters were seen trying top ush over a mini-bus stop on to police.

Hong Kong Indigenous, a localist group that is fielding a candidate in a Legislative Council by-election in three weeks, is involved in the protest.

The candidate Edward Leung Tin-kei was arrested, according to a Facebook post by the group at 2.16am.

Shortly after midnight-and about three hours after the chaos broke out, the group announced on Facebook that it would “exercise” Leung’s “power” as an election candidate to hold an election march in the Mong Kok night market. The group said they would not need to notify the police because the number of marchers would be less than 30.

It called on people to go out in support and bring along eye masks, face masks and protective gear.

Before Leung’s arrest, he was seen standing in the front of the crowd shouting slogans through a loudspeaker. Some protesters were wearing the group’s blue tracksuits on which its name is printed. 

In the police said protesters were causing "serious disturbances to public safety" and other road users prompting police intervention.

The police vowed "resolute enforcement actions will be taken against any illegal acts to preserve public order and safeguard public safety."


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