Multiple policemen committed acts of violence against press workers who had explicitly identified themselves during the clearance on Lung Wo Road at midnight today. These include firing pepper spray at point-blank range, beating, bludgeoning with baton, etc. Two reporters from inmediahk.net and a reporter from SocREC were brutalized and injured by the police despite clearing displaying their press badge. As a member of the web press community, we strongly condemn the excessive force committing upon press workers on the part of police. Such conducts profoundly damaged the freedom of press.
At 3am, when covering the clearence on Tamar Park, a reporter from SocREC was pulled into the line by riot-geared policemen. His eyeglass, helmet, and eyepatch was torn away from him as he suffered a 30 seconds-long beating. Later, two troopers dragged him across the road for 30 seconds to a detaining coach. The wounded reporter repeatedly displayed his press badge during the ordinal, but it did not stop them. Instead, they made verbal abuse upon him as well. It was only when getting aboard the coach that an officer tasking with press affair confirmed his identity and released him. The reporter sought treatment at the Queen Mary Hospital and where he found clear injures on his face, forehead, nose, tip of mouth, neck and left arm.
Paralleled to that, an In-Media reporter covering inside a tunnel in Lung Wo was suddenly threatened by a trooper with pepper spray. He followed instruction to back off, but the policeman still fired at his face without prior warning; although he expressed his press identity many times, he still was restrained and handcuffed. In the process, the trooper yelled: "reporter? so what?" "What about reporter? You still can't take photo at the front." He was released after his identity was clarified. Another inmediahk.net reporter was crashed in the head by riot shield when he was backing off.
Summing from reports from multiple presses, we found that the police made no distinction between protesters and reporters on the ground and took to expel both from the scene. To monitor police conducts is a duty of journalist; mirroring that, according to Chapter 39 of the Police General Orders, the police should also cooperate with the press on their part. It should not disturb journalist from covering or recording events. We repeat: no matter belonging to web press, electronic press, or print press, the frontline journalist always have their goal in reporting facts to the audience and reader. Should they not present at the scene, the public would never know of the real face of the society.
It is the police's duty to uphold the laws, but now frontline policemen took to abuse force upon press workers who explicitly showed their identity, disrupt press coverage, intimidating reporters. These are amounts to violating the public's right to information. We will not tolerant such conducts. We strongly condemn such acts, and we demand the Commissioner of Police to provide explanation and to punish perpetuating officers in order that the freedom of expression in Hong Kong will not subjugate to police power.
Web Presses in joint announcement：
United Social Press