Hong Kong police has come under severe criticism after a viral video showed officers tackling a 12-year-old girl to the ground during a pro-democracy protest during the weekend.
The video shows the girl walking along a sidewalk when riot police officers stopped her. The girl started running away before the police, armed with batons, helmets, and full-body gear, chased after her and tackled her to the ground. The crowd around them can be heard shouting during the confrontation.
Hong Kong police faces backlash after viral video shows a young girl tackled to the ground by riot police #HongKong #HongKongPolice #HongKongProtests #HongKongPoliceBurtality pic.twitter.com/iQ7EvbTJGo
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The girl and her brother had been out buying paint for visual arts lessons when they encountered the police, said the girl’s mother.
The police force defended its officers’ actions, saying in a statement they had deployed “minimum necessary force” in the situation. It said protesters, including the girl, had been intercepted for a stop and search.
“During the interaction, she suddenly ran away in a suspicious manner,” the statement said. “Officers, therefore, chased and subdued her with the use of minimum necessary force.”
Police said the girl had violated the city’s ban on gatherings of more than two people, and added that she was issued a penalty ticket with a fine of $2,000 Hong Kong dollars.
The girl’s mother while speaking on public broadcaster RTHK’s radio show said her 12-year-old daughter has suffered bruises from the incident, and that she no longer wished to talk about it or watch the video clip.
“My daughter saw a police officer with a shield and a baton. I can see that he was shouting at my daughter loudly, and it was apparent that my daughter was scared,” she told RTHK.
“The question is, is it really necessary for another riot police officer bump into her and push her to the ground from another direction? And use his knee to hold her on the ground. I think it is not necessary,” she said. “I was heartbroken when I watched the video again.”
Hong Kongers were originally scheduled to go to the polls on Sunday, but in July the city’s leader postponed legislative elections for a year, citing public health concerns.
Close to 300 protesters were arrested on Sunday, according to the police, during one of the largest pro-democracy demonstrations since China imposed a national security law in June.