Riot police has arrested the prominent organiser of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests on January 19, according to his organisation. The police claimed that he helped to organise a protest in the financial district a day earlier that turned violent which resulted in officers firing tear gas to disperse the crowd. Hong Kong Civil Assembly Team said in a statement that Ventus Lau was arrested by the police on Sunday evening and was charged with "obstruction of police administration" and violating terms set when permission was granted for the protest.
The crowd gathered and blocked the surrounding streets with some protestors briefly barricaded roads with umbrellas, traffic cones and other street furniture. The organiser initially took permission known as a letter of no objection for a rally but the police only agreed to a static rally in a park in the city’s Central district. As it turned violent, police arrived at the spot and ordered a halt to the protest and started dispersing the crowd.
Nearly 400 pro-democracy protesters were detained by police authorities in Hong Kong after New Year's Day demonstrations. According to international media reports, the arrests made on January 1 were one of the largest arrests in a single day since the unrest rocked the former British colony in June 2019 making the total count of detainees to at least 7,000. What started as a peaceful anti-government protest with tens and thousands of people marching the streets escalated into chaotic scenes with police firing tear gas in order to disperse the crowd.
The demonstrators were reportedly arrested under the charges of illegal assembly and possession of offensive weapons. The tensions between the protesters and police authorities rose after some arrests were made in the Wan Chai bar district near a branch of global banking group HSBC which has also been the target of protester's anger in recent weeks.
(With inputs from agencies)