Hundreds took to the streets in Central in the early afternoon on Friday to mourn the death of a Hong Kong student who died from a fall at a car park near police operations.
At around 1pm, crowds marched from Chater Garden to the streets of Central, with some in Guy Fawkes masks. A banner was carried, with the words “rampaging police murdering people”. Parts of thoroughfares in the business district were occupied.
Marchers had gathered at around 12.30pm, calling police “evil murderers” and shouting slogans such as “blood for blood, deliver the truth!” and “Hongkongers seek revenge”.
Tensions flared before protesters marched out of the garden, as a few officers on site asked a participant to remove his mask, citing the law. This prompted others to hurl abuse at police.
Officers later retreated after raising a yellow flag warning people they were breaching the law and could be prosecuted.
On Chater Road, protesters observed a minute of silence, with some holding white flowers.
An auditor surnamed Leung, 22, who was among participants, said: “Even without this tragedy, it is just a matter of time for a fatality to happen ... The government has condoned the acts of police. I think the truth will be buried as long as the government is not overthrown.”
He called for a constitutional reform, and said even the resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor would be meaningless.
Protesters then marched along Des Voeux Road Central, carrying the giant banner.
Among them was retired teacher Ho, who only gave her surname and said she was heartbroken to learn about the death.
“This has pushed the protest to its climax. It is horrific to me that the government has lost its conscience, and keeps telling lies,” she said, suggesting that security footage released over the incident did not show the truth.
“I don’t want to go too much into conspiracies. But we demand the truth. I hope all citizens, including the car owners at the site of the incident, can give us some clues.”
Another protester, surnamed Wong, in her 20s, came over from her office in Sheung Wan.
“We still don’t know the real cause of his fall. But it is undeniable that the black cops had deterred the ambulance from reaching him,” she said. “Having heard so many lies of police over the past months, it is just difficult for us to trust them.”
The protests were sparked by the death of Chow Tsz-lok, a second year computer science undergraduate at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Chow was believed to have fallen from the third to second floor of a car park in Tseung Kwan O, as police carried out a dispersal operation with tear gas nearby in the early hours of Monday morning.
The 22-year-old had been in a coma after being sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Two operations were carried out to stop the swelling in his head, but reportedly failed to help reduce the damage.
His condition took a turn for the worse on Thursday night before he succumbed to cardiac arrest the following morning, a source said. The hospital confirmed he died at 8.09am, but did not state the cause of death.
Security camera footage released on Wednesday by Link Reit, owner of the Sheung Tak Estate car park, did not appear to capture Chow’s fall, as the cameras rotated during their operation. The view was also partly blocked by parked vehicles.
Sunday’s clash in Tseung Kwan O, which extended into the small hours of the following day, was sparked by a group of people trying to disrupt a police officer’s wedding held in a hotel in the district. It was unclear whether Chow was in the group, why he was at the car park and what exactly caused him to fall.
Questions also remained over whether there was any delay in paramedics reaching Chow, as it took 19 minutes for them to arrive, seven minutes longer than the service pledge of being at a destination within 12 minutes from the time of an emergency call.