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Wednesday, Sep 23, 2020

Standoffs between police, protesters in HK malls

Officers fire tear gas on roads in some districts including Tsuen Wan and Shatin

Hong Kong police and protesters plus local residents were involved in standoffs in shopping malls in various districts across the city on Sunday.

From 2pm, hundreds of protesters wearing masks and black shirts gathered in shopping malls in Tseung Kwan O, Tai Po, Shatin, Kwun Tong, Kowloon Tong, Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun and Taikoo. Sunday’s protests, named “Flowers blooming everywhere,” were held in 18 districts and aimed at opposing the anti-mask law launched on October 5.

People gathered in shopping malls, sang Glory To Hong Kong and chanted “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times!”

They drew graffiti on wooden boards shuttering previously-vandalized pro-Beijing shops which included cake shops, restaurants and coffee shops operated by Maxim’s Caterers Ltd and Best Mart 360 snack shops .

Annie Wu Suk-ching, the daughter of the Maxim’s group’s founder, had earlier spoken in support of the extradition law. On Saturday, Wu said in an interview with the Beijing Daily that people who attacked Maxim’s shops intended to hurt the Hong Kong business sector.

She said it was sad that many Hong Kong people and enterprises had stayed silent as they were afraid of being targeted. She said she was not involved in the group’s operations and did not own a stake in the group.

However, David Webb, a share market analyst in Hong Kong, said in an article on October 11 that Wu was a shareholder of Maxim’s.

Best Mart 360 outlets have been vandalized over the last two months as many believe its owner and management had connections with Fujianese gangsters, who attacked anti-extradition protesters and reporters on August 5.

The company said in a statement on October 2 that the accusations were groundless and the company and its management had never supported any violent behavior.

On Sunday, police patrolled most MTR stations and intercepted some passers-by. In several cases, they rushed into shopping malls and arrested people wearing masks.

At about 3 pm, dozens of police with shields and shotguns entered The Grandiose and Popcorn shopping malls while some masked people were painting graffiti on a closed Maxim’s shop. A 16-minute video taken by Asia Times shows police arresting a masked person in a shopping mall and then being shouted at by the crowd.

Police later entered the Popcorn shopping mall again and arrested three more people.

Popcorn mall is operated by the MTR Corp, while the Grandiose is a property jointly developed by the train company and New World Development Co.

Three protesters were arrested in Tai Po Mega Mall, while seven were detained for disrupting a Best Mart 360 shop in Metroplaza in Kwai Chung. Both shopping malls were developed and operated by Sun Hung Kai Properties. A masked man with an expandable baton, apparently an undercover police officer, appeared in the shop.

On October 8, a team of riot police entered the MOSTown shopping mall in Ma On Shan in the New Territories after being barred by five security guards. The five staff were then arrested for allegedly obstructing police from doing their duty. They were granted bail on the same day.

James To Kun-sun, a Democratic Party lawmaker, said the police should seek a warrant from the court before entering a shopping mall for operations. To said if the police do not have a warrant, they have to show that a particular suspect they want to arrest is in the shopping mall, instead of entering it and randomly searching for people.

Some previously-vandalized shops continued to operate, although their facilities had not been repaired.

On the streets, there were standoffs between black-shirted people and police in the afternoon. According to RTHK, a Chinese national flag was burned in Wong Tai Sin.

At about 4pm, police fired tear gas on roads in Tsuen Wan and Shatin. Some people blocked roads in Mong Kok, while others threw debris onto the railway lines in Shatin and Tuen Mun.

Meanwhile, protesters were granted approval from police to rally in Charter Garden in Central at 7pm on Monday to call for the US Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Acts.

Organizers urged the US government to sanction Hong Kong officials, politicians and police, whom they accused of repression.

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