Abuse of power as police violently breaks up election meeting: participants given two minutes to disperse and candidate violently restrained. DOJ withdraws groundless charge of unlawful assembly.
In Victoria Park this afternoon, pan-democratic candidates standing for the District Council election separately held election meetings, as defined by Section 12(5) of the Electoral Ordinance. Under the stipulation of the law, the police was not notified as the number of attendees was below fifty. From around 3pm, Victoria Park was filled with people gathering for these election meetings. However, the police declared these election meetings as unlawful. Everyone on the scene was ordered to leave, including the District Council election candidates, with the police displaying the yellow, blue and black flags as warnings.
At 3:51pm, a female police officer warned people gathered at the entrance closest to the Victoria Park fountain “You have two minutes to leave”. Immediately after the warning, a group of riot police rushed towards the fountain but retreated to their original positions a minute later. However, at the time, no one was seen to be attacking the police cordon. At 4 pm, the riot police fired tear gas towards the direction of the park football fields, despite that fact that no tussle or conflict could be seen. The police then entered to disperse the crowd but a large number of citizens and elders who attended the meetings were unable to vacate the area.
The candidates tried to reason with the police, stating that “I have the right to gather without requiring police approval”. Without notice, the police charged forwards and suppressed one of the candidates, Richard Chan, to the ground. Chan was then sprayed with pepper spray. Chan tried to remove an officer’s arm that was applying pressure to his neck, saying “I can’t breathe”, and was again spray in the face with pepper spray. He was then handcuffed and arrested alongside two other candidates, Osman Cheng Chung Hang and Man Nim Chi.
In November 2019, election meetings held in Victoria Park by pan-democratic candidates standing for the District Council was broken up by police tear gas, less than an hour into the meetings. Three of the candidates tried to reason with the police and were arrested for unlawful assembly and obstructing a public officer. In the hearing on 16th April, 2020, the prosecution withdrew the charge of unlawful assembly, but additionally charged one of the defendants with possession of a radio apparatus without a valid license. The case was adjorned by Chief Magistrate Bina Chainrai until 9th July to allow defence to review the documentation, and the three defendants renewed their bail.
All three defendants were elected to the District Council last year. They were Man Nim Chi (29 years old) of Chung Ting constituency, Richard “Uncle Airport” Chan (47 years old) of Lam Tusen Valley constituency and Osman Cheng Chung Hang (31 years old), the victim attacked by then Superintendent Franklin Chu Jing Wei in 2014, of On Tai constituency. The three are currently indicted with obstructing a public officer, that they had deliberately obstructed police performing lawful duty, namely Senior Inspector no.18506, and other police officers, outside the gate no. 8 in Victoria Park on 2nd November, 2019.
Man was also separately indicted with one count of unlicensed possession of possession of a radio apparatus without a valid license, that he was in possession of a radio apparatus on the same day and location.
Related events: The 2 November Victoria Park gathering
Case footage/ links: