Just over three weeks ago, armed white-shirted thugs wielding sticks and poles unleashed an indiscriminate attack on on-lookers and protesters at the Yuen Long train station in northern Hong Kong, injuring 45. Police did not arrive on scene until close to 40 minutes later.
Today (Aug. 5), as protesters waged a general strike and paralyzed public transportation, anti-government rallies evolved into a wave of roving protests across Hong Kong. Guerilla-style demonstrations continued well into the night, and in the neighborhood of North Point, on Hong Kong Island, men in white wielding sticks beat protesters in scenes with eerie echoes of the Yuen Long attack.
Widespread suspicions of collusion between the Yuen Long attackers and the police has galvanized protesters, who were already angered by officers’ alleged use of excessive force. Protesters are also frustrated that the 23 people—all with links to triads, the organized criminal groups—arrested in connection with the attack, have been charged merely with unlawful assembly. In contrast, hundreds of protesters have been arrested swiftly and many charged with rioting, which carries a much heavier punishment.
This afternoon, black-clad protesters who occupied a main road outside the government headquarters in Admiralty faced a barrage of tear gas from the police. Around 6pm, demonstrators headed east to the shopping district of Causeway Bay, then continued eastward to North Point, a neighborhood with older, staunchly pro-Beijing residents. Around 8pm, a group of mostly white-clad men armed with rattan sticks and wooden poles appeared, attacking protesters. Some protesters pursued the white-clad attackers to a building where they believed the assailants were hiding, besieging it and smashing a window (link in Chinese) before dispersing.
Elsewhere, a group in light-blue shirts emblazoned with “I love Hong Kong” reportedly gathered in Tsuen Wan, a suburban town in western Hong Kong, and some photos appearing to show them wielding sticks. According to reports, the blue-clad group attacked protesters (link in Chinese), causing at least one injury. There were separate sightings of white-clad attackers in Tsuen Wan using metal poles and knives to inflict serious injuries. Blood stained the streets, according to South China Morning Post reporter Xinqi Su.