68 arrested over weekend for wearing masks at unauthorized assemblies, criminal damage in Hong Kong
Hong Kong police said on Monday that they had arrested 68 people between Friday and Sunday suspected of participating in or wearing face masks at unauthorized assemblies, as well as inflicting criminal damage.
The arrested include 53 males and 15 females, aged between 15 and 67. They are suspected of being involved in burglary, bodily harm, attending unlawful demonstrations, wearing masks at the unlawful rallies and concealing offensive weapons, Chief Superintendent of the Police Public Relations Branch Tse Chun-chung told a press conference.
Regional commander of Kowloon West Cheuk Hau-yip said that over the past four months or more, violence and rioting have been happening routinely. Soon after assemblies started, masked thugs dressed in black went on rampage to commit arson and vandalism.
The police found recently that the rioters possessed homemade and suspected bombs, he said.
Surveillance footage aired at the press conference showed the mobsters setting fire to public and private facilities, including the exits of the mass transit railway (MTR), bank branches and shops on the street. The rioters also damaged the traffic lights and hurled petrol bombs at police stations and police officers.
There were 28 burglaries, more than 80 cases of arson and 752 cases of criminal damage recorded since October 1, Cheuk said, adding that 400 traffic lights were damaged over the past four months.
"Such looting, rioting acts pose a great threat to public safety and we express the strongest condemnation," Cheuk said. "The police strongly condemn all these lawless and reckless behaviors and no excuse can justify these acts of violence against our own community."
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Chan Derek Armstrong of the Fire Services Department condemned the rioters for setting fire at multiple locations. He said the consequences of arson were unpredictable and severely affected emergency services and resources allocation of the fire department, threatening lives of the others.