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In Hong Kong, Police Shot a Man While Protesters Set Another on Fire

In Hong Kong, Police Shot a Man While Protesters Set Another on Fire
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Two Hongkongers were sent to the hospital in critical condition Monday following separate violent incidents. In one, police shot a protester at close range. In the other, protesters doused a Beijing sympathizer in gasoline and set him on fire.

Many Hongkongers are still mourning the Friday death of a 22-year-old student protester, Chow Tsz-lok, who had been hospitalized following a police encounter. The protests, now in their sixth month, have been mostly peaceful (with some notable exceptions); that’s less true of the police response. Today’s events mark a notable shift: The violence was particularly severe, it occurred during the daytime, and it spilled over into the business district, with tear gas harming those who have not taken part in protests.

Video footage of the shooting, which took place in Sai Wan Ho neighborhood, shows a police officer grabbing one black-clad protester while a second approaches the cop. The officer fired at the approaching protester, identified as 21-year-old Patrick Chow, who clutched his stomach and immediately fell to the ground. Chow remains in critical condition, according to the Hospital Authority.

That marks the third time police have fired live rounds at protesters. In early October, police shot an 18-year-old student protester named Tsang Chi-kin. Several days later, police shot a 14-year-old protester in the leg. Both survived their injuries.

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Video footage of the burn victim shows a lengthy altercation between a group of Hong Kong supporters and what appears to be a single Beijing sympathizer. It escalated when a protester douses the lone Beijing supporter with gasoline and lights him on fire. The Beijing sympathizer is also in critical condition.

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A third video from today shows a police officer on a motorcycle attempting to ram his vehicle into crowds of protesters. John Tse, a spokesman for the Hong Kong Police Force, says that the officer has been placed on leave and that he was just trying to separate protesters from police.

Hong Kong’s police force has been under scrutiny for use of excessive force against protesters, especially misuse of tear gas, which has been fired near public housing and into enclosed spaces, such as subway stations.

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As a result of the violence, several universities have canceled classes; medics have treated several commuters who were exposed to tear gas.

The protests initially centered around a now-revoked extradition treaty proposed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam. The bill would have allowed Hongkongers to be extradited to Taiwan and mainland China, where the criminal justice system is arbitrary and harsh—a far cry from the due process protections that Hongkongers currently enjoy. Though Hong Kong is technically part of China, the territory operates under a “one country, two systems” policy that allows its citizens free speech, a free press, and the ability to elect some of their representatives. The policy is set to remain in place until 2047, at which point the city will be fully absorbed by the mainland. Many Hongkongers are worried that the Communist Party of China is prematurely encroaching on their rights.

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About The Author

Liz Wolfe

Founded in 1968, Reason is the magazine of free minds and free markets. We produce hard-hitting independent journalism on civil liberties, politics, technology, culture, policy, and commerce. Reason exists outside of the left/right echo chamber. Our goal is to deliver fresh, unbiased information and insights to our readers, viewers, and listeners every day. Visit https://reason.com

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