Woman Dressed as ‘Maleficent’ Taunts Hong Kong Police on Halloween, Gets Tackled

Hong Kong police and pro-democracy protesters faced off on Halloween night in the midst of chaotic celebrations and demonstrations near the district of Lan Kwai Fong, Central Hong Kong.

Many protesters showed up in costumes and masks, in defiance of the recent ban on face coverings. The ban was introduced by Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam who claimed that the mask ban would enable the police to easily identify rioters from the peaceful protesters.

On Thursday afternoon, a video released by the Hong Kong police stated that officers would be authorized to used force to remove facial coverings such as masks or face paint if deemed necessary.

As riot police closed the Lan Kwai Fong area around 8:30 p.m., a popular nightlife spot where large Halloween festivities take place annually, tense confrontations ensued as costume party-goers were shut out.

Hundreds of masked protesters were present at the scene, with many wearing the Guy Fawkes mask, and masks depicting government leaders such as Xi Jinping and Carrie Lam, shouting “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”

Soon after, the police and protesters clashed as police declared the gathering to be an unlawful assembly and ordered an immediate evacuation of the district. The police are said to have fired multiple rounds of tear gas at protesters near the Mong Kok police station and also in the central business district. Two women were arrested that night and pepper spray was also used on a crowd consisting of mostly reporters.

The protests started out as a fight against the now-withdrawn extradition bill and have since expanded to include demands such as free elections and an independent investigation into the Hong Kong police’s use of force.

There have been serious concerns in Hong Kong regarding free speech after the High Court also banned people from “disseminating, circulating, publishing or re-publishing” internet posts that could incite or encourage violence.

 

Chinese leaders have reportedly refrained from taking harsher measures because the city’s autonomy is crucial to sustaining special trading privileges with the U.S. which is a competitive advantage.

However, Richard McGregor, a senior fellow at the Lowy Institute told Bloomberg that the Chinese government appears to be waiting the protesters out, “… Beijing is settling in for a long battle with the protesters. In that respect, it reflects a hardening Beijing’s position, not a change,” he said.

Featured image via YouTube/@TIME

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