- Police and staff associations dissociate themselves from gathering organised by new online group
- Organiser says about 400 people show up for rally, held in Central in heavy rain
Demonstrators in masks held a rally in central Hong Kong on Sunday, saying they were family members of police officers who felt unfairly trapped between the government and protesters, and also calling for a commission of inquiry into a snowballing crisis.
Both the police force and its staff associations dissociated themselves from the gathering organised by the Police Relatives Connection, an online group formed last month by people claiming to have relatives in the force. The organiser said 400 turned up, while the official police estimate was 270 at its peak.
"No fight between police and civilians, return police to the people," they chanted in the rain at Edinburgh Place in Central in the afternoon, also taking a stand that would go against police opposition to the inquiry that anti-government protesters have been demanding.
The personnel wing of the force had earlier written to its four police associations to say the rally did not represent the force's position and urged officers to tell family members to be cautious about taking part.
"They are not from police associations, be careful of any tricks or opposition pretending to be a pro-police group in order to gain support from the public," said Willie Ng Wai-kei, chairman of the Police Inspectors' Association.
Junior Police Officers' Association chairman Lam Chi-wai said none of the family members they knew had any plans to join the rally.
But the demonstrators, while refusing to identify themselves, said they were facing "white terror" and suppression because of their position.
"Even if the whole world abandons you, we, as your family, will not leave you," a masked woman said, telling reporters she was married to a police officer.
"We just wish the police could regain their original aspirations when joining the force, so as to serve society, not becoming enemies of the people."
They marched to the Chief Executive's Office, but there was no one to receive their petition. They succeeded in handing one in through a back door at police headquarters in Wan Chai.
The group read out the oath all officers have to take during their passing-out ceremony, accusing some in the force of abusing their power.
They urged the city's leader, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, to respond to the demands of the protesters and end the crisis through political means rather than depending on police to stop them.
"The city is sick. We believe a thorough inquiry into all areas, not only aimed at the police force, is the first step to mend the rifts in society," said one of the organisers, who identified herself as Mrs Lee.
She said her husband had been in the force for a decade.
Another woman who said she was the mother of a newly recruited policeman, identified herself as Ms Li, one of the 20 core members of the group.
She said they had come together after the Yuen Long attack on July 21, when a mob of men in white beat up protesters, commuters and bystanders at the MTR station.
"As family members of the police force, we are destined to be sandwiched. We never say we are representing all of them," she said.
She said all members were afraid of being doxxed and harming the careers of their relatives working in the force.
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