Outrage in Hong Kong After Police Tackle 12-Year-Old Schoolgirl During Protest

The 12-year-old girl before being tackled by police during a protest in Hong Kong, on Sunday.
Credit…Mak Wai Kit/The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Campus Radio, via Reuters

Video footage of police officers in Hong Kong pinning a schoolgirl to the ground during a protest has set off a public outcry over the police’s use of force amid a widening crackdown on political dissent.

The footage shows the 12-year-old girl walking in a shopping area in Hong Kong near a site where riot police officers were trying to stop demonstrators from gathering on Sunday. It shows the girl running as several officers approached her. A few officers gave chase, and one of them held her down while onlookers shouted in anger.

The footage shot by local reporters quickly drew a flood of critical comments on social media. On Tuesday, teachers, psychologists and social workers circulated a petition demanding an apology from the authorities and a call for the officers involved to be investigated. The organizers said that the petition had gathered more than 10,000 signatures after a few hours.

The petition criticized the police’s tactics as an “indiscriminate treatment of children” who did not take part in protests. They warned that such tactics could “plant seeds of hatred against law enforcement officers among children.”

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, when asked by reporters at a news briefing on Tuesday about the footage, declined to comment on the footage but said any complaint against the police’s actions would be fully investigated.

Thousands of officers moved on Sunday to stifle scattered demonstrations against the yearlong postponement of legislative elections that would have taken place that day. They arrested 289 people.

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Tiffany May and Elaine Yu