Written by Raymond Zhong, Katherine Li and Ezra Cheung
Hundreds of students marched through a Hong Kong campus Monday and broke the glass on several doors to protest the arrest of a college reporter who was taken into custody during a rally this weekend for carrying what his school’s president described as a table knife.
The reporter, Boaz So, a journalism student at Hong Kong Baptist University, was carrying the knife in his bag while covering pro-democracy demonstrations Sunday because he had been eating cake with classmates to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, the university’s president, professor Roland T. Chin, wrote in an email to students Monday. Chinese people traditionally commemorate the holiday by eating mooncakes, a kind of rich, round pastry.
“We have been in touch with the police and have urged them to ensure that the case is handled properly and fairly,” Chin wrote in the email.
So was released on bail Monday evening, according to Bruce Lui, a lecturer at the university who was helping So with his case.
Ng Lok-chun, a senior police superintendent, said Monday that So had been arrested after officers determined that he was in possession of a weapon. “I believe that the judgment made by my colleagues was professional,” Ng said.
The unrest at the university Monday highlighted the anger of students as the anti-government protests in Hong Kong have entered their fourth month. As the level of violence has risen, police officers appear to have become quicker to act against potential threats.
There were brawls between civilians Sunday, and protesters lobbed firebombs and bricks at government buildings and vandalized a subway station.
Sharon Tam, another student reporter who was with So at the time of his arrest, said he had been taken into custody in the Fortress Hill neighborhood of Hong Kong Island, where clashes became heated Sunday night. She said that the knife he had been carrying was a metal butter knife.
Witnesses said they saw a group of men carrying long knives and pouring gasoline onto the street as police officers pursued them. Police said Monday that more than 1,450 people had been arrested in the unrest since June. So’s detention recalled that of Keith Fong, a student leader at Baptist University who was arrested last month after being found with 10 laser pointers. Fong was later released without charges.
The students Monday marched through campus to demand that the university condemn the police for So’s arrest. They climbed several flights of stairs to try to reach Chin’s office and broke the glass on several doors that were locked.
When the professor did not appear, the students heckled the head of the university’s journalism department and occupied the building.