Hong Kong: Holiday protest injures dozens of cops

Protesters gathered to fight for outdoor food vendors amid city crack down over holiday. Police warn protesters to stay off streets.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

An unidentified injured man is escorted by riot police at Mongkok in Hong Kong
An unidentified injured man is escorted by riot police at Mongkok in Hong Kong
Bobby Yip/Reuters

A violent protest broke out amid New Year's celebrations in Hong Kong on Monday night. The protest erupted following the municipal crackdown on outdoor food vendors which rapidly escalated. 

Three hundred people gathered in the streets and hurled bottles and garbage cans at police officers, while others tore bricks from the pavement to be used as weapons. Police responded by using pepper-spray and firing off warning shots into the air. The South China Morning Post reports that 48 police officers were injured and 24 people were arrested during the protest. 

It was the most violent protest in the city since the pro-democracy demonstrations that floored Hong Kong during the fall of 2014.

The Mong-Kok commercial neighborhood, where the incident occurred, is especially popular in February, as Chinese tourists flock to the streets to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

While outdoor food vendors are a cultural staple in the city, Hong Kong’s government is concerned with the threats they pose to health and hygiene. City officials planned a crack-down on the food vendors to take place on the first day of the new year. 

Vendors spread the word about the crack-down via social media and protesters began to gather in throngs in order to fight for the vendors' ability to keep their food stalls open.  

The protest was brought under control by 8 a.m. Hong King time, and protesters had left the area. Hong Kong riot police were still visibly patrolling the area to maintain order. 

The Hong Kong Police Force is urging the public to “exercise restraint” and “leave the scene as soon as possible.” The statement warned local residents and protesters that “any acts endangering public order and public safety will not be tolerated, The public should express their views in a rational and peaceful manner.”

Local media reports say that fires lit by the protesters are continuing to burn throughout the neighborhood.