Analysis: 12/15 Police Attack on Journalists

Earlier this week, we synced the four known videos from the incident Hong Kong Free Press describes below:

At around 11:25pm, around 8 officers tried to push back a group of reporters near the intersection of Shantung Street and Portland Street. A photojournalist for Mad Dog Daily was pepper-sprayed in the face and beaten with batons after he briefly argued with riot police officers. He was then arrested and taken to the Mong Kok police station. The reason for his arrest remains unclear. Leung Kam-cheung, editor of Mad Dog Daily, said in a statement that the reporters were within their rights to be on the scene working and followed police orders to return to the pavement.

We took a closer look at the incident after HKPF released their own statement.

“His verbal abuse was very likely to cause a breach of the peace at the scene. So our officer had already given him a warning to stop his illegal or disorderly act. Unfortunately, he didn’t follow the warning… after my officer sprayed the pepper spray, he had a bit of physical contact with my officer, so my officer decided to arrest him for obstructing a police officer.”

HKPF is describing two discrete reasons for the pepper-spraying, baton strikes (we count at least six), and arrest. They are contradicted by the available footage.

  • The footage we have is too packed with journalists to 100% confirm whether he was on the sidewalk or on the road, but it is far more likely he was on the sidewalk as he said.
  • About eight seconds after the first available footage shows police asking them to step back, the reporter responds with “I’m already on the pavement. How can I step back further?” We don’t hear any cursing in the footage.
  • To be perfectly blunt, the accusation that the reporter became “physical” after being pepper-sprayed is a lie. Within two seconds of pepper-spraying him the baton strikes begin. As can be seen clearly with a slowed-down clip, the most ‘physical’ thing he does is raise his hands to shield his face from the pepper-spray.
  • In contrast to other footage of attacks on Hong Kong journalists, there are no protests or protesters in the footage. It appears to be only police and journalists at the scene.

Further resources:

  • A Hong Kong Baptist University Student Union student journalist was shot in the eye in roughly the same place about 90 minutes later. He has recovered.

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