Police fired more than 150 rounds of tear gas, several rubber bullets and about 20 rounds of beanbags to suppress protesters during Wednesday’s violent clashes around the Legislative Council complex and roads in Admiralty, the force’s chief has said.
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Eleven people were arrested for offenses including disorderly behavior in a public place, illegal assembly, assaulting police and other riot-related offenses, Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung said on Thursday. Lo added 22 officers had been injured.
During the Occupy movement in 2014, police fired 87 rounds of tear gas to disperse crowds. There were no report of police using rubber bullets or rounds of beanbags during the 79-day protest.
Lo denied his officers had used excessive force on Wednesday and said the equipment deployed, including pepper spray, pepper liquid jets, rounds of beanbags and rubber bullets, was on par with that used by overseas officers in similar situations.
The police chief described the clashes as very tense, saying: “I have not seen such scenes for a long time.”
He said police had taken a tolerant attitude at first and it was not until protesters charged cordon lines with sharpened iron poles, bricks and metal barricades to attack officers at scene that the force had responded.
“Protesters blocked and occupied roads around Admiralty, including Lung Wo Road, Tim Mei Avenue, Harcourt Road and Gloucester Road, causing severe traffic congestion. Although it was already an illegal assembly, we tried to be tolerant,” Lo said.
“But some rioters used violent measures to storm the Legislative Council Complex.”
Police escalated the use of force to control the situation, disperse the crowds and protect those working in the Legislative Council complex, Lo said.
“We the officers and you are all Hong Kong people. And we share the same vision to maintain law and order and it is our responsibility to make Hong Kong a safe place for people to live,” he said.
Legislative Council President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen canceled a full council meeting on Friday, having earlier canceled a meeting on Thursday. The meeting was originally scheduled for Wednesday but was canceled because of the protests.
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