Police in Hong Kong are preparing for a weekend of trouble as a staggering one million protesters are set to take to the streets in their pro-democracy campaign.
The authorities yesterday officially banned two marches due to take place later today (Sat)
and one on Sunday.
But they are set to go-ahead anyway amid fears more violence will break out in the former British colony Hong Kong Police made a public warning to the protesters yesterday saying simply: “If they don’t use violence, we don’t use force.”
The force also revealed that they have arrested 748 people since the mass anti-extradition law protests began.
In previous weeks, efforts to ban or restrict anti-government and anti-police demonstrations have failed, with protesters appearing anyway, and violent clashes often breaking out on the frontlines with police.
In a rare briefing to journalists the police commanders disputed descriptions by Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam that Hong Kong is spinning out of control, though they admitted the police force is “emotionally and physically tired after months of confrontation”.
The officers insisted the city’s police force, which numbers around 30,000 uniformed officers, had the situation well under control.
“We’re not at full mobilisation,” one senior officer said, arguing that only a fraction of the officers are deployed to deal with the wildcat protests that erupt day after day.
“We have the depth of resources to keep going.”
Allegations of police brutality have fuelled increasingly violent protests on the streets prompting law enforcement to fire tear gas on an almost daily basis.
Protests were first sparked in June by widespread opposition to a now shelved extradition bill but have since expanded to include demands for full democracy amid escalating violence.
A French climber known as “Spiderman” scaled a Hong Kong skyscraper and put up a banner urging peace in the city rocked by political unrest.
Alain Robert unfurled a banner showing a handshake and the flags of Hong Kong and China on Friday morning.
The 57-year-old, known for climbing tall buildings worldwide, said his stunt was an “urgent appeal for peace”.
He said: “Perhaps what I do can lower the temperature and maybe raise a smile. That’s my hope anyway.”
As in many of his previous climbs, Mr Roberts did not use ropes or a harness.