Anti-mask law helps tackle violence: HK police
Published: Oct 08, 2019 07:43 PM

Police conference on Tuesday.

Hong Kong police have detained 77 people for allegedly breaking the newly enacted anti-mask law that took effect on Saturday, a police spokesperson said Tuesday.

Hong Kong faced "unprecedentedly barbaric and cruel violent acts" in the past four days, which has severely jeopardized the rule of law in Hong Kong, and the lawless acts of rioters are injecting fear in the city, police said.

Since Friday, when the government decided to enact the anti-mask law under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to quell the four months of unrest, rioters have started to adopt a hit-and-run strategy and brutally assaulted residents in various districts, such as Mong Kok and Sham Shui Po. Among the victims was an elderly taxi driver who was being dragged out of the car and beaten to the ground.  

Meanwhile, rioters destroyed more than 200 stores and public facilities, including 40 MTR stations, around 100 stores and banks, and the offices of legislators.

Police said rioters also escalated violence by trying to claim the lives of police officers. In the past four days, 14 officers were hurt while on duty, including one plainclothes officer who was besieged by Molotov cocktails in Yuen Long on Friday night. And on Monday night, an officer was hit by a bicycle thrown by rioters in Tseung Kwan O, injuring his head and neck.

"We still need time to see how the anti-mask law works. But when there is a law, it definitely helps us," said Ng Cheuk Hang, senior superintendent of Crime Wing Headquarters, at a press conference.

The police said they have set up an updated version of an anti-violence hotline and people can report to the police through this line, SMS, email or WeChat.

The police launched WhatsApp anti-violence hotlines in September in a move to gather intelligence on violent incidents, but later suspended the hotlines, citing "mixed reviews."  

Between Friday and Monday, 241 people were arrested, including 170 men and 71 women aged between 12 and 54, for allegedly attending unlawful assemblies, hiding aggressive weapons and wearing masks at illegal assemblies.

The police have also denied speculations that elements of the People's Liberation Army have joined the Hong Kong Police Force, and reiterated that the Hong Kong police are determined to address the current situation.