HONG KONG – Pro-democracy protests in the city were reinvigorated Wednesday, following widespread outrage at a video showing police officers beating a restrained protester was widely circulated.
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the city's police headquarters in an attempt to file complaints against officers for police brutality. Angry demonstrators shouted “disgrace” and some held signs saying “shame on Hong Kong police.”
0105 Police HQ. Large crowd seen & 100+ ppl still queuing to file civil proceedings agst police assault of protestors pic.twitter.com/X9AV1XAey9
â€” HKDemoNow (@hkdemonow) October 15, 2014
Hundreds of protesters also gathered at the city's Lung Wo road, an underpass near the chief executive's office that was the scene for the latest clashes between police and demonstrators.
Protesters shouted insults during a stand-off with officers in the early hours of Thursday, but there was no repeat of Wednesday morning's clashes, with police making just two arrests overnight. In a statement, police said that while officers were arresting one man for kicking a bottle at a passing car, they were surrounded by protesters, and used OC foam (pepper spray) to disperse the crowd. By 4a.m. local time, the crowds thinned out and officers were able to reopen the road to traffic.
Fernando Cheung Chiu-Hung, a legislator with the city's Labor Party told the South China Morning Post: “I think that is really astounding that the police would choose to use such illegal methods, such violence against protesters.” He added that the officers in question “should be suspended immediately.”
Lester Shum, the deputy secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Students said, “The police that committed the violence should be arrested and investigated and thrown in jail,” according to a report from the Epoch Times.
“When we were younger were told that police were there to help us, but now it’s the opposite,” Shum added.
The Apple Daily, a city newspaper that is supportive of the protests, ran a front-page headline Thursday which reads “Seven Evil Cops Beat Protester For Four Minutes.”
Protest sites have been quiet this morning, with hundreds of people still camping out in tents on Hong Kong's main highway.
The renewed anger was sparked by a video showing Civic Party member Ken Tsang being beaten by up to seven police officers, while his hands were cuffed behind his back. At highly charged press conferences Wednesday night, Tsang and other protesters who had been arrested outlined allegations of physical abuse at the hands of police.
Protest group Occupy Central released case studies of other protesters who allege they were the victims of police violence in Wednesday's clashes. They included a man whose head was stepped on and was beaten by officers; a woman who was dragged along the ground, severely scraping her legs and knees, leaving them bleeding; and a man who was pushed to the ground by officers and punched and kicked.
Hong Kong authorities have promised an “impartial” investigation into allegations of use of excessive force by police.