VIOLENCE erupted in Yuen Long (元朗) on Sunday over the cross-border shopping business – the worst violence yet over the issue that saw police using pepper spray six times and arresting 33 people.
Hundreds of protesters led by radical groups Civic Passion (熱血公民) and Hong Kong Indigenous (本土民主前線) clashed with people backing the parallel trading business during a series of rallies.
By 10.30pm, dozens of protesters remained in the protest zones.
Besides the pepper-spraying action, police were in the fray with batons as the rally turned ugly in the afternoon.
The 33 people arrested, whose ages ranged from 13 to 74, were accused of possessing offensive weapons, assaults on police and indecent assault.
Five police officers were injured.
Hong Kong Indigenous protesters clad in blue and Civic Passion members in yellow, who were kitted out with masks and helmets, want the cancellation of multiple-entry permits for mainlanders.
Yuen Long residents made up the majority of people opposing them.
‘Recover Yuen Long’ (光復元朗) was the most serious of three rounds of protest over the past four weeks that also took place in Tuen Mun (屯門) and Sha Tin (沙田). Sunday’s action started at 3.30pm at Long Ping Station (朗屏站) and was declared over at 4pm in Sau Fu Street (壽富街).
The radical groups then began to move, but chaos soon replaced an orderly dispersal.
Protesters stormed police lines at 4.15pm and pushed against pro-parallel trading elements on Sau Fu Street, which was when police used pepper spray three times without warning.
A group against the anti-shopping elements shouted foul language at their rivals and punches began to be thrown.
Several people were taken away by the police, including a woman who had blood streaming down her face.
An ATV (亞洲電視) reporter was hit by the pepper spray, though Yuen Long District police superintendent Matthew Lau Mei-yam 柳美欽) said officers were not targeting the media.
“I believe it was an accident,” he said.
Lau condemned the actions of protestors who “quarrelled, threw objects and rushed to the road”.
(The Standard, Hilary Wong, Eddie Luk and Kevin Cheng, 2 March, 2015)