In response to Apple Daily’s enquiry, the Fire Services Department exposed the police’s lie. They admitted for the first time that the frontline firefighters reported to the Communications Centre that there was a crush at the scene and requested for reinforcements.
Police fired stun grenades. Special tactics squad minibus rammed into a crowd, causing stampede. Police hindered rescue.
During a dispersal operation in Nathan Road, Yau Ma Tei, ‘crush’ incidents were caused in Pitt Street and Nathan Road when protestors evaded; A voluntary first-aider at the scene of Pitt Street said people were piled to 4-5 layers high, and many victims screamed that they couldn’t breathe. In response to the ‘crush’ incidents in Yau Ma Tei, the Fire Services Department said there were a total of 31 injured sent to 7 hospitals, 16 of which were severe cases, with alleged head and hand injuries.
Voluntary first aider Ms H arrived Pitt Street at around 11.10pm – 11.15pm that evening. According to her understanding, police were making arrests at a large crowd, which led to chaos and caused the crush. She said 60 – 70 people fell at Pitt Street, they were piled to 4-5 layers high, and many victims screamed that they couldn’t breathe. She immediately pulled out three girls on the second and third layer of the pile from her right. “I will remember that scene for life. They were screaming for our help one after another.” She said she ran to the other side at that time and planned to tell the people at the back row to move back. But the special tactics squad police shouted at her to leave, otherwise she would be arrested.
A crush also happened in Nathan Road, in addition to the one in Pitt Street. Citizen journalist Tsan witnessed the incident. He said there was a clash between the riot police and protestors at Nathan Road. When he went pass Pitt Street, he heard protestors screamed “run”. Around 10 special tactics squad police ran from Pitt Street to Nathan Road, while riot police advanced from Waterloo Road to Nathan Road.
He described that protestors on Nathan Road evaded at high speed, but did not notice that they were outflanked by the special tactics squad on Pitt Street. Meanwhile, Tsan noticed some sparks and sounds which he believed to be the stun grenades used by police. At around the same time, HKPUSU PressCom journalist Raymond witnessed how protestors fell during the hasty escape at the northbound path of Nathan Road, near Pitt Street, which led to the piling up of 20-30 people. Some protestors then climbed up by themselves and continued to escape, but there were police with batons chasing them from behind. There were firefighters and voluntary first aiders rescuing at the scene, and some firefighters tried to pull up people from the crush, but the police stopped all rescues and stopped journalists from filming when they arrived. A voluntary first aider at the scene condemned the police for forcing away first aiders and attacking first aiders with pepper spray. In the end, the police arrested citizens who rescued and assisted, but they did not help protestors who fell.
The Fire Services Department said regarding the Yau Ma Tei incident, at 11:32pm on Monday evening, on-duty firefighters reported there were ‘crush’ incidents. The control center arranged 161 firefighters and ambulancemen to the scene for rescue operations. In the incident, there were a total of 31 injured sent to 7 hospitals, 16 of which were severe cases, with alleged head and hand injuries.
At the police press conference held the next day, Police Senior Superintendent (Operations) Wong Wai Shun responded that police swooped down on the Nathan Road area in Yau Ma Tei last night and arrested approximately 200 people. He said that thousands threw petrol bombs and attacked the police, with the possibility of robbing arrestees. The police had no choice but to use ‘stun grenades’ to distract protestors.
On a different note, at around 00:45am, reader Herman witnessed and filmed from a building apartment in Nathan Road, 3 white minibuses carrying police, and also an armoured personnel carrier that drove towards Prince Edward’s direction. He said the white minibus suddenly accelerated towards the crowd, slowed down when it reached the Molotov cocktail road blocks, and then accelerated again. Large crowds of protestors rushed to escape, while the special tactics squad advanced on both sides.
Regarding the police minibus ramming into the crowd, suspicious of ignoring lives, Wong said the statement was wrong, and claimed that the police “have never done anything that ignore human lives”. He said that the action was based on “tactical considerations”, and have warned those present at the scene to stay away; he also said “Driving fast doesn’t mean it is unsafe”.
Afterwards, 6 voluntary first aiders pointed out at the Citizen Press Conference on 25 November that the special tactic squad pushed first aiders and firefighters away at the time of incident, and even sprayed them with pepper spray. They believe that the police just “wanted to arrest all casualties of the stampede”, and condemned the police for “putting arrests before saving lives”, ignoring the people’s lives and safety. This caused the stacked casualties to be ignored for over 10 minutes and missed the prime time for first aid.
In the 11th to 17th seconds in the video above, police used stun grenade, making multiple explosions and flashes.
Updated on 26 November:
Legislator Claudia Mo held a press conference with 6 of the voluntary first aiders who were present on the scene on 25 November. First aider A, who first arrived at the scene, said that she and foreign voluntary first aider Cody Howdeshell rushed to the scene as soon as they heard voices crying for help. When they arrived, there were already 50 to 60 people in the ‘crush’, piled up to 5 to 6 stories high. The situation was very critical, “some people kept screaming for help and shouted they don’t want to die”. Together with the firefighters present, they assisted in pulling the casualties away, but due to the severity of the ‘crush’ incident, they were unsuccessful.
Moments later, the special tactics squad rushed in and requested them to stop the rescue. “(The special tactics squad) pushed us and the firefighters away, and even pepper-sprayed us in the process.” She didn’t understand why the police pushed the firefighters away, and stressed that the police only seemed like they “wanted to arrest everyone in the stampede”. When asked about the police’s claim: “Injuries of the casualties were different from injuries caused by stampedes”, denying the “so-called stampede” incident, first aider A stressed that she had seen it with her own eyes, and that “people will come forward and testify their lies”.
Another voluntary first aider B described the scene as horrific, and it caught her off-guard. “(The stacked casualties) were like corpses, not a single one of them got up”, she said. She said at that time, she was rescuing a neighbor in ordinary clothes, but got shouted at by the police who said no first aiders were needed at the scene. She also pointed out that she was beaten and injured by police with batons during the rescue, and condemned the police for “putting arrests before saving lives”, and questioned how could the police be sure that all casualties were protestors. Voluntary first aider C reprimanded the police for not only failing to help with rescuing the casualties, they even obstructed the first aiders from doing so. She even mentioned that during their argument with the police, the stacked causalities were ignored for over 10 minutes, criticizing that the prime time for first aid was missed.
In response to Apply Daily’s enquiry, the Fire Services Department admitted that the Communications Centre received a report from the frontline firefighters at 11.32pm, that there was a crush incident at the junction of Nathan Road and Pitt Street and they requested for reinforcements. 33 casualties were rescued and taken to the hospital by ambulance. The Communications Centre did not receive any frontline firefighters report regarding eviction by the police.
After the police’s lie was exposed by the Fire Services Department, when replying to Apple’s Daily’s enquiry, the police no longer insisted that there was no crush incidents that night, but denied obstructing ambulancemen and firefighters. They reiterated “someone fell while running away”, and that the police immediately “diverted the crowd” and arranged for ambulancemen and firefighters to arrive at the scene. They even claimed to have “preliminarily treated” the casualties’ injuries before ambulancemen arrived and “assisted” all ambulance services “to the best of their ability”.
Updated on 26 November: