Shot teen charged as Hong Kong considers ban on masks

Thursday, October 3, 2019

HONG KONG (AP) — The teenager who was the first victim of police gunfire in Hong Kong’s monthslong pro-democracy protests was charged Thursday with rioting and attacking police, as calls grew for the government to ban the wearing of masks to subdue rising violence in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

The shooting of the 18-year-old Tuesday during widespread clashes marred China’s National Day celebration and marked an alarming escalation in violence in the unrest that has rocked one of the world’s top financial hubs since June.

Local media reported that Chief Executive Carrie Lam will hold a special Executive Council meeting on Friday to discuss a ban on masks, which have helped protesters conceal their identities, and other tough measures under a colonial-era emergency law.

Lam’s office said it had no comment. Pro-Beijing legislator Michael Tien confirmed the meeting. Activists and some lawmakers warned that such harsh measures would only further alienate the people and could prompt a more ferocious backlash.

Anger against the government has built up since Tsang Chi-kin was shot at close range after he struck a police officer with a rod.

Tsang was among seven people charged Thursday with rioting, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. He also faces two additional counts of attacking two police officers, punishable by up to six months in prison.

Tsang and two others who were hospitalized did not appear in court. The government said Tsang’s condition is stable. Dozens of supporters, many in black, sat outside the courthouse.

Thousands of people rallied in several areas Thursday night for a second straight day to demand police accountability for the shooting. Dozens stuck antipolice posters and well-wishes for Tsang on fencing outside his school in Tsuen Wan district in the north.

In the Taikoo Shing area, riot police fired volleys of tear gas after some protesters set up road barriers and smashed a surveillance camera at a subway exit. Hundreds of people earlier shouted abuse at riot police, who used pepper spray and detained at least two people.

Earlier Thursday, over 1,000 students marched Thursday at the Chinese University. Many people felt that firing at Tsang’s chest, close to his heart, was an attempt to kill him.

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