Shot teen charged as Hong Kong considers ban on masks

Chief Executive Carrie Lam will hold a special Executive Council meeting Friday about ban on masks

The teenager who was the first victim of police gunfire in Hong Kong’s monthslong pro-democracy protests was charged Thursday with rioting and attacking police, as calls grew for the government to ban the wearing of masks to subdue rising violence in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

The shooting of the 18-year-old Tuesday during widespread clashes marred China’s National Day celebration and marked an alarming escalation in violence in the unrest that has rocked one of the world’s top financial hubs since June.

Local media reported that Chief Executive Carrie Lam will hold a special Executive Council meeting on Friday to discuss a ban on masks, which have helped protesters conceal their identities, and other tough measures under a colonial-era emergency law.

Lam’s office said it had no comment. Pro-Beijing legislator Michael Tien confirmed the meeting. Activists and some lawmakers warned that such harsh measures would only further alienate the people and could prompt a more ferocious backlash.

Anger against the government has built up since Tsang Chi-kin was shot at close range after he struck a police officer with a rod.

Tsang was among seven people charged Thursday with rioting, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. He also faces two additional counts of attacking two police officers, punishable by up to six months in prison.

Tsang and two others who were hospitalized did not appear in court. The government said Tsang’s condition is stable. Dozens of supporters, many in black, sat outside the courthouse.

Thousands of people rallied in several areas Thursday night for a second straight day to demand police accountability for the shooting. Dozens stuck anti-police posters and well-wishes for Tsang on fencing outside his school in Tsuen Wan district in the north.

In the Taikoo Shing area, riot police fired volleys of tear gas after some protesters set up road barriers and smashed a surveillance camera at a subway exit. Hundreds of people earlier shouted abuse at riot police, who used pepper spray and detained at least two people.

WATCH: Hong Kong police slammed as ‘trigger-happy’ after teen shot

Earlier Thursday, over 1,000 students marched Thursday at the Chinese University. Many people felt that firing at Tsang’s chest, close to his heart, was an attempt to kill him.

Police defended the shooting as “reasonable and lawful” because the officer had feared for his life and those of his colleagues.

Videos on social media of the shooting showed a group of black-clad protesters with bars and umbrellas clashing with police. They closed in on a lone officer, who opened fire as Tsang came at him with a rod. Just as another protester rushed in to try to drag Tsang away but was tackled by an officer, a gasoline bomb landed in the middle of the group of officers in an explosion of flames.

The protests that started in June over a now-shelved extradition bill have since snowballed into an anti-China campaign amid anger over what many view as Beijing’s interference in Hong Kong’s autonomy that was granted when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997. More than 1,750 people have been detained so far.

Police associations and some pro-Beijing groups have called for tougher measures.

The Junior Police Officers Association, representing front-line officers, said the force has been stretched thin. In a statement Wednesday, it urged the government to impose a curfew and other emergency measures to maintain public order.

A pro-government group, including lawmakers and lawyers, said Thursday that authorities should use the example of a Canadian law that imposes a jail sentence of up to 10 years on anyone wearing a mask during a riot or unlawful assembly.

Lawmaker Elizabeth Quat said the ban would specifically target rioters and wouldn’t curb citizens’ freedom of assembly. While it wouldn’t bring protests to a halt, she said it would help reduce the violence that has wracked the territory.

But Ip Kin-yuen, a legislator representing the education sector, warned it would be akin to “adding oil to the fire” and could further weaken the government in dealing with the crisis.

Legislator Tien said protesters could challenge a mask ban and any curfew order, just as tens of thousands of people have defied police bans on rallies and taken to the streets in the past months.

But he said it could work if the government also responds to at least the key demand of the protesters, which is to hold an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality.

“They need to use carrot and stick at the same time,” Tien said.

Eileen Ng, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Altitunes Festival in Kelowna unveils its full lineup

The Arkells, Dear Rouge, Andrew Judah and more will take the stage Apr. 4

Malindi Elmore: Shattering national running records at 39

She recently shattered the Canadian women’s marathon record at the Houston Marathon in January

Tracy Gray: From business to politics

She was the first female MP elected to represent Kelowna-Lake Country in 2019

Vees have a short-handed romp over visiting West Kelowna Warriors

The Penticton Vees scored three short-handed goals to take a 1-0 series lead over West Kelowna

Kelowna production takes ‘The Walk’ to explore sex trafficking

The goal is to get people thinking about the situation, according to the playwright

Fashion Fridays: Tammy’s big makeover

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

The price of child poverty: Women parenting alone forced to live harsh reality

Latest figures available show 1,630 children in Columbia Shuswap Regional District living in poverty

Man missing in the South Okanagan located

Victor Genero has been located according to RCMP. He was last seen in Penticton on Feb. 24.

Conservative MP questions whether rail blockades constitute terrorism

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett travelled to B.C. to meet Indigenous leaders

Lawsuit over African mine can be heard in British Columbia: Supreme Court

B.C. courts dismissed Nevsun’s attempts to make Eritrea the forum for any lawsuit proceedings

Salmon Arm family has unique tie to original Stanley Cup

Shuswap residents will have opportunity to view iconic trophy on March 7.

Clothing, jewelry, purses: RCMP ask court about disposal of evidence in Robert Pickton case

Pickton was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of six women

Morning Start: Do you know that IKEA actually stands for something?

Your morning start for Friday, Feb. 28, 2020.

Most Read