HK protests: man jailed for 8 months over unlawful 2019 demonstration outside police operations base

19-Jun-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 5:02 AM Print This Post

A man was jailed for eight months on Wednesday for dismantling fences and setting up roadblocks outside a Hong Kong police operations base during an unlawful protest over a mysterious smell in Tuen Mun at the height of the social unrest of 2019.

The District Court heard some 200 people had gathered at the Tai Hing Operational Base on Tsun Wan Road at about 8.20pm on October 30 to voice their displeasure at the odour, despite police attempts to dispel rumours that the unidentified smell was tear gas emanating from the facility.



The crowd chanted insulting slogans, flashed laser beams at officers stationed there and drew a group of counterprotesters who rallied in support of police at about 9pm.

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As a shouting match ensued, police issued a warning and their supporters gradually dispersed.

At that point, radical protesters nearby dismantled metal fences on pavements along Leung Wan Street and moved them into the carriageway, where they also used barricades and traffic cones as roadblocks.

Among them was a masked Tang Ho-yan, 25, who initially used an umbrella to shield those who were removing the fences before joining in and helping with the roadblock.

Police cleared the area at 9.40pm and arrested 52 people, including Tang, who was subsequently found to be carrying five face masks, a pair of gloves and a bag of plastic cable ties in his backpack.

Earlier this month, Tang pleaded guilty to taking part in an unlawful assembly, using a facial covering in an unlawful assembly and possessing instruments fit for unlawful purposes.

In mitigation, Tang apologised to the court and explained that he had gone to the protest out of curiosity and only joined in after being incited by others at the scene, which he now regretted.

That explanation was accepted by District Judge Edmond Lee Chun-man, who observed that Tang did not play any leadership role in the assembly, which only became unlawful with the involvement of radical protesters at 9.30pm.

The judge also noted that the protesters only caused limited damage and disruption to public life in the 10 minutes between the demonstration getting out of hand and the police clearance operation, as they only damaged a small number of fences.

No one was injured and cars were still allowed to pass through the affected roads, Lee added.

Unlawful assembly is punishable by five years in prison.



Category: Hong Kong

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