Up to thousands of protesters surrounded Lung Wo road once again this morning. A similar occupy attempt the morning before ended in protesters being pepper sprayed and a video of seven officers beating up a bound protester going viral. Protesters were visibly angry after yesterday, repeatedly chanting insults such as “black cop!” and “Triad!”, making extensive references to the viral video.
In the earlier hours of the night, protesters attempted to block the eastbound section of Lung Wo Road with water-filled barriers and metal fences, prompting police to quickly push protesters back on to the pavement and form single file lines to keep protesters from getting on the road again.
Later in the night, after a water bottle was dropped onto Lung Wo road from Tamar Park, and police made advances to arrest an individual protester. Other protesters in turn surrounded the police, asking them to let the suspect go. When backup for the police arrived, protesters were dispersed with the use of riot shields and pepper spray. Protesters were then scattered on both pavements of Lung Wo Road, and police lines were formed to keep protesters there. The situation remained relatively peaceful until early morning, except for constant berating of the police by protesters. All lanes were finally open at 8 a.m. as protesters left the pavement peacefully.
Police officers generally showed restraint, ignoring severe and continuous verbal abuse. Although a few officers did respond to insults by taunting protesters on several instances. During a short episode, protesters surrounded officers who were seemingly scouting the Tamar Park area. When backup showed up, a senior officer responded to taunts by screaming back at protesters, prompting huge out roar from protesters that lead to confrontation between the sides. Relative peace was soon restored when officers chose to retreat.
The video showing alleged police brutality has further deteriorated the already tense relationship between demonstrators and the police. It seems as though, throughout the 19 days of the Umbrella Movement, the police has gradually lost the trust and respect from protesters. Any actions they make there on out, justified or not, will be under extreme scrutiny by the public. Any attempts to use force by the police against protesters seem to have backfired every time, prompting more protesters to make a stance. If they are to ensure protests remain peaceful, as like the last few hours before dawn this morning, the police will have to maintain the same degree of restraint shown today, and avoid any instances like the day before.