A Hong Kong student outlet documented an incident Sunday in which police officers appeared to use pepper spray against a protester that began shouting “I am one of your own!” and exhibiting police identification.
Hong Kong Free Press reported, citing a network run by students at Diocesan Boys’ School, that masked officers used pepper spray on the “protesters” several times and stopped when the man showed a police warrant card. The outlet reported the officers stopped assaulting the man and then brought him to receive medical care. Authentic protesters reportedly booed the undercover officer upon realizing that police were offering him care.
The incident, highlighting how liberally officers are using pepper spray and other crowd-control weapons, allegedly took place within a demonstration of around 10,000 people in the Sheung Shui district against cross-border trade with China, organized by the city’s anti-China Democratic Party.
Police made dozens of arrests, reportedly used tear gas as well as pepper spray, and at one point forced protesters in the Sheung Shui Centre shopping mall to kneel in unison for mass searches.
Last month, a similar scenario reportedly took place after two undercover police officers were arrested by fellow officers at a protest. They were later released after police learned their true identities, with one of the officers shouting: “Hey, fuck you, we are on the same team!”
Police are reportedly searching for two masked men who threw Molotov cocktails at a restaurant that has publicly supported Hong Kong’s police and the Chinese Communist Party since the outbreak of demonstrations last year. No one was injured in the attack, although police are treating it as a case of attempted arson.
The aim of limiting cross-border trade is an attempt to reduce China’s involvement in Hong Kong as Beijing continues to step up its interference and undermining of the “One Country Two Systems” agreed with the British Empire following its handover in 1997. The agreement was intended for Hong Kong to be officially part of China but have its own democratic system of governance.
Demonstrators and residents have also long been frustrated with the influx of Chinese merchants who buy products bulk-buy products before selling them in China.
Hong Kong has been afflicted by intense political and civil unrest since June last year when people took to the streets to oppose an extradition bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to China for trial and express widespread anger at Beijing’s growing interference.
The region’s pro-China CEO Carrie Lam eventually agreed to scrap the bill. However, the movement has since morphed into a wider movement against China, with protesters laying out a set of demands including an investigation into police brutality, the release of all political prisoners, and reforms to their voting system that would allow them to directly elect their leader.