Police detained 53 people Monday in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, on charges relating to violent incidents during a protest against a planned trash incinerator on Saturday.
The suspects were arrested on charges of disturbing public order, provoking trouble and obstructing public functions. The accused allegedly attacked police officers, damaged vehicles and blocked traffic during the mainly peaceful protest, which was marred by clashes with local police as officers attempted to clear a highway blocked by hundreds of demonstrators.
Seven other suspects have been put into administrative custody on Monday for rumor-spreading about deaths of civilians during the protest, according to Hangzhou police.
Thousands of people allegedly gathered on Saturday in Hangzhou's Yuhang district in protest against the planned incineration plant out of fear of pollution.
A local resident surnamed Ma told the Global Times that the notice calling for "suspects" to surrender themselves has kept rolling on local television. Another anonymous resident told the Global Times that some residents are unhappy with how local authorities have dealt with the incident.
Shi Jianhua, deputy head of the city's Yuhang district, pledged to halt construction of the plant, which is still in the planning phase, until it "gains public support and legal approval" on Sunday.
Construction of potential polluters such as chemical or garbage processing plants has become a flash point in recent years, with multiple demonstrations often held in protest.
In most cases, local governments halt the projects or relocate them to other areas. However, local authorities have shown increasing determination to hold responsible those people who turned violent and broke the law during the protests.
Tong Zhiwei, a professor with the East China University of Political Science and Law, wrote on his Sina Weibo on Monday that it is unfair that Hangzhou authorities arrested so many protesters but no official was held responsible for misconduct in this incident.