Each year, the Lunar New Year is a time of ultimate celebration all across Asia (and the globe). However, this year in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, the festivities were replaced by a night of violence and rioting. The chaos erupted out of this year’s government crackdown on unlicensed street hawkers during the holidays. Hostility rose as police used batons, pepper spray, and fired warning shots into the air while protesters retaliated by flinging glass bottles, bricks, and setting fires.
Just over two weeks after these events, police are searching for another 100 suspects who played an ‘active role’ in the violence, poring over surveillance footage to identify those who took part in the upheaval.
Seventy-four people have been arrested thus far – sixty-five men and nine women – two of whom are fourteen year-old girls now out on bail. More than forty of those have been charged with rioting.
The South China Morning Post reports that a “source with knowledge of the investigation” said: “Officers could only identify them when their masks were removed and they were captured by surveillance cameras. That is why we have to seize hundreds of CCTV recordings from different channels to check.” Because of the concealed identities of these protesters, sources from inside the police force say they have established a special team to closely examine the tapes.
Another source told the South China Morning Post that police “would trace others who played a less active role later, and the force might release photographs of the masked rioters to seek the public’s help in identifying them.”