Hong Kong police stage show of force on streets, jeered by residents


HONG KONG: Hong Kong police staged a show of force on Monday night in a district hit by some of the most violent clashes with protesters in recent months, but instead of being confronted by demonstrators were jeered by onlookers.
Many Hong Kongers say police have used excessive force against protesters - some of them school students and young adults - and want an independent inquiry into police action. "The police are ridiculous, they are out of control," said a 22-year-old man watching the police who gave his name only as James. "We are sticking to our beliefs and trying to express our voices to the government, but they use force to try to make us afraid and try to make us stay at home."
Police arrived in vans at several locations in the Mong Kok district and marched down the street, some beating shields, but were outnumbered by media and onlookers and withdrew to cheersIn one incident, a few dozen riot police retreated and drove off as about 150 residents and passers-by heckled them, chanting "disband police" and "Hong Kongers revolt".Police fired tear gas and used pepper spray on people in some locations and detained a handful of people in the working class district across the harbour from the financial centre that has been a focal point of past demonstrations.
A handful of protesters played a cat-and-mouse game with police but there were no major confrontations by late Monday night. Police said "masked rioters" had damaged public property and facilities in metro stations and were guilty of arson."The police strongly condemn the life-threatening and violent acts of rioters. Appallingly, some onlookers even clapped their hands to incite the rioters," the police said. Late on Monday most police had withdrawn from Mong Kok streets. Four months of protests have plunged the former British colony into its worst political crisis in decades and pose the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012
Hundreds of protesters gathered in Hong Kong shopping malls during the day demanding "freedom", but street protests failed to materialise in any significant size as the city struggled to recover from violent clashes in recent days. Tens of thousands of protesters, many families with children, marched peacefully through the centre of Hong Kong on Sunday, most wearing face masks in defiance of the threat of a maximum one-year prison sentence for doing so.

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