A senior Hong Kong police officer said Thursday that rioters shattered Hong Kong people's hope for a peaceful and stable 2020, as a massive procession in Hong Kong Island went ugly again on Wednesday, the New Year's Day.
Chief Superintendent Kwok Ka-chuen of Police Public Relations Branch said at a press briefing that the social unrest that crippled Hong Kong in the second half of 2019 went on to the new year.
"On the first day of 2020, almost as a formula, a public procession began in a generally peaceful manner before eventually descending into disorder," Kwok said.
Rioters went on a rampage in the streets shortly after the demonstration began on Wednesday afternoon. They trashed an HSBC branch, set fires in the streets, and spray-painted insulting words on the outer wall of the High Court.
Police arrested 420 people for offenses including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons and disorderly conduct in public place.
From Halloween to Christmas to the New Year, no festivals escaped from rioters' violence in recent months, with shoppers beaten up, metro stations vandalized, police vehicles set on fire, shops and restaurants ransacked, and police officers assaulted.
"Protesters' violence has reached a really critical level," Kwok said, stressing all lawbreakers will be brought to justice.
In the past two days, five people were arrested for providing information about police deployments to front-line rioters by an illegal radio wave communication platform. A 12-year-old pupil was arrested for unlawful assembly, stoking concerns about the participation of youngsters in violent incidents.
Kwok said 2019 was remembered for its chaos and violence and it is at the hand of Hong Kong residents to decide the new year, calling on them to stand together and make a clear break with violence, so that the society can take time to recover and return to safety and stability.