“You’re blind. What can you monitor?” A riot police says offensively to a blind female lawyer

On 1 May 2020, citizens initiated a “Sing with You” event in the evening at Sha Tin New Town Plaza. During the event, the riot police entered the shopping mall and dispersed reporters there. The police then evacuated. Around 10p.m., citizens gathered again at the atrium to chant slogans. The police entered the shopping mall after ten minutes or so, tapped off the area and, stopped and questioned three people in the atrium. These people included a blind female lawyer Joy and two Shatin district councillors.

In the meantime, Joy sat on the floor, and pointed at the police emotionally. After tangling with the three people for a while, the police left without issuing penalty tickets to them.

The female lawyer with visual loss pointed out that the police offended her with discriminatory language at the New Town Plaza. Remembering she was stopped and questioned by a police about why she attended the event, she replied “to monitor police brutality”. The police asked, “how can you monitor police brutality if you’re blind? What can you witness?” Joy said she was only there to help monitor, and one of the police continued and said, “you claimed that you were blind, but you can actually see. You are pretending to be blind.” Joy believed this belonged to discrimination. Therefore, she asked for the police’s unique identification number, while tangling with him.

Later, a female police officer (the woman in pink blouse with a pair of glasses in the video), surnamed Lai, who claimed to be from the Shatin Police Community Relation Office, said she would settle the incident. The female police suggested going to the police station with Joy, but she rejected. Joy explained that it was a common thing for the blind to say “to watch TV”, instead of “to listen to the TV”. She added “I was really there to monitor police brutality. Although I was indeed listening to what was happening, it will be ridiculous to say I was listening to police violence.” Reporters asked Miss Lai, the female police, about how she would follow up the case. She replied that she was “finding out what had happened at an initial stage”.

Later, Johnny Chung, a Sha Tin district councillor, was interviewed by the reporters. He explained when the riot police entered the atrium, Joy was standing at the middle walkway. The police then surrounded her and, stopped and questioned her. The district councillors witnessed that and mediated the situation. Chung said that Joy told the police that she stayed to monitor the police. One of them argued by saying “you are blind, what can you see?” and “how can you monitor?”

Upon hearing those words, Joy became emotional. She requested to have the police’s information to file a complaint, but the police left without any comments. Chung added that he had also requested a superintendent of police (SP) to provide him the information of that police, but the superintendent refused to provide the time and venue of the incident, and it was said to be followed up later.

Chung stated that the police’s behaviour was discriminatory against the disabled and it was unacceptable.

According to regulation 3 of part I in chapter 232A of “Laws of Hong Kong”:

(2) The offences against discipline are—

(c)  conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline;

In section 46 of chapter 487 “Disability Discrimination Ordinance” of “Laws of Hong Kong”:

Vilification

(1) It is unlawful for a person, by any activity in public, to incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, another person with a disability or members of a class of persons with a disability.

(3) In this section and section 47, activity in public (公開活動) includes—

(a)  any form of communication to the public, including speaking, writing, printing, displaying notices, broadcasting, screening and playing of tapes or other recorded material;

(b)  any conduct (not being a form of communication referred to in paragraph (a)) observable by the public, including actions and gestures and the wearing or display of clothing, signs, ags, emblems and insignia;

(c)  the distribution or dissemination of any matter to the public.

Related issue: 1 May Sha Tin New Town Plaza “Sing with You”

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