Hong Kong police played rough again on Tuesday, charging into a crowd of student protesters and tackling one teenager with enough force to send him to the hospital.
The incident came as Chinese state media issued another belligerent warning the “traitors” of the protest movement “have no idea of China’s power and will as an emerging country.”
The incident of police violence occurred at Confucian Tai Shing Ho Kwok Pui Chun College (HKPC), where a group of about 60 students and adults gathered on Tuesday morning to demonstrate in support of the Hong Kong “student strike” that began Monday.
The Hong Kong Free Press described police arriving on the scene for no apparent reason and getting physical with the demonstrators:
When the students were about to leave, a few officers charged ahead and one officer tackled a student outside a neighbourhood playground.
Footage shot by Cupid Producer showed the student falling to the ground. He was seen bleeding from his mouth and chin afterwards.
According to Apple Daily, at least four of the students were stopped and searched before being allowed to leave. Paramedics later treated the injured student and took him to the hospital. One officer also reportedly scraped his arm when he fell.
It was unclear why officers were summoned to the scene, though the vice-principal of the school said in a statement they did not call the police.
Police officials claimed officers were summoned to the scene by “noise complaints” and denied tackling the student, insisting the takedown captured on video was merely the student and officer simultaneously slipping and falling on wet ground:
Further controversy was sparked by a leaked audio recording of HKPC principal Leung Chau-wan telling student demonstrators she would report them to government education officials and explaining why they were required to hold their boycott demonstration in the lecture hall instead of a location where they could be more easily seen and heard:
“It’s not that I didn’t arrange a location for you. But you say, you want a specific place … This isn’t your freedom, you never had it, why do you think you have it now?” Leung was heard saying.
A youngster retorted: “So we don’t have freedom?”
Leung replied: “You have freedom. You just don’t have absolute freedom. If you want freedom, then the only thing you can do is not to be a student here.”
By evening, the college found itself surrounded by a crowd large enough to chase the police away by booing at them. The South China Morning Post reported students and their parents were furious about the police tackle and suspect principal Leung called the police to break up the demonstration outside her campus, despite official statements from the college that none of its staffers called the police.
According to the SCMP, the school was able to cut the number of boycotting students from 100 to about 40 by making parental permission slips for missing class mandatory, but then classes for all students were canceled without explanation on Tuesday afternoon.
China’s state-run Global Times issued a dire warning to protesters on Monday, insulting them as “rioters” and “the new generation of traitors” for trying to get the United States and other foreign powers involved in their movement.
The Global Times compared pro-democracy leaders in Hong Kong to jihadi terrorists by saying they are determined to become “martyrs” and repeated the Chinese Communist Party line that the protest movement is an American plot to disrupt Chinese sovereignty.
The editorial railed against U.S. laws linking Hong Kong’s special trade privileges to its autonomy and sneered at protest leaders for believing their “masters” in Washington can help them against the might of Beijing.
“These people have never seen what China has done to resist the pressure from the outside. They have no idea of China’s power and will as an emerging country,” the Global Times warned.