Residents ensured of public order; all 9 suspects in Tangshan attack arrested
Authorities in Tangshan, a city in North China's Hebei province, have pledged to ensure that residents can be free from worry after a video of the beating of women by several men at a barbecue restaurant early Friday went viral online.
"We will carry out a review to severely crack down on organized crime and evil activities and improve public order, so that victims in the case can be given justice while our citizens can have peace and enjoy social stability," Tian Guoliang, the mayor of Tangshan, said at a news conference over the weekend.
The city launched a campaign on Sunday to improve public order. The move will last half a month and will target criminal activities that spur strong emotion from the public and have an adverse influence on society, including intentional injury, extortion, drug abuse and cybercrimes.
The assault happened in the early hours of Friday at a barbecue restaurant in Lubei district in Tangshan when a male customer, identified by police as Chen Jizhi, harassed a female customer and then brutally attacked her after she resisted. Chen's companions later joined in, beating the woman and her female friends.
Videos online showed the viciousness of the beating, with the female customer thrown to the ground and then hit and stomped by several men at the same time. The assailants fled after the beating.
By Saturday afternoon, Chen and his eight alleged accomplices－seven males and two females－were all arrested, including four who had fled to Jiangsu province afterward.
On Sunday they were arrested by the Guangyang district branch of the city of Langfang's public security bureau, which has been designated to be in charge of the case, with the approval of the procuratorate of Guangyang district.
The nine are suspected of the crimes of picking quarrels and making trouble, as well as intentional assault, for which punishment varies according to specific circumstances, including the victims' injuries, said Luo Xiang, a professor at China University of Political Science and Law, who commented online about the incident.
Police in Tangshan said on Saturday that four women were injured, two of whom were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, though the severity of the injuries was not disclosed.
Nationwide, public security authorities in many areas, including the Ningxia Hui autonomous region and Henan province, said they would launch night inspections during the summer to detect potential disputes and risk factors that could threaten public security and social stability.
An official notice issued by the police department of Puyang, Henan province, said night inspections will be conducted at such places as school campuses, night fairs, shopping malls and bars. Quick responses and the dispatching of police officers when situations are reported will also be required.
The incident has been a hot topic on social platforms. Some netizens, including residents of Tangshan, posted videos reporting gang activity.
In one video posted by a cake shop owner in Tangshan's Lubei district, the man claimed he had been extorted since July last year by a gang consisting of former prisoners. "The gang harassed me and provoked trouble at my shop and home about 20 times," he said.
Regarding the cake shop owner's claims and others, the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Tangshan Committee said verification of the claims was underway.
The Tangshan assault has not only spurred reports about local gangs, but also provoked outrage from netizens, including celebrities, most of whom called for justice.
Actor and martial artist Jackie Chan said on China's Twitterlike messaging platform Sina Weibo on Saturday night, "I expect they will be punished severely according to the law."