Press groups have condemned attacks on a cameraman and company vehicle from two Hong Kong media outlets on Friday, after vigils mourning the death of a university student turned ugly.
As people came to terms with the loss of student Chow Tsz-lok, who suffered a severe brain injury in a car park fall earlier this week, protesters unleashed late-night violence in several districts.
A TVB cameraman was attacked at 10pm as he was covering protests in Mong Kok. He said a few protesters approached him and asked whether he was from the network, and attacked after he said he was.
“They snatched my camera and tripod, threw them to the ground and smashed them with iron bars,” he said in a TVB news report. “Some say they only hit machines not men, but a few had come over to me and hurt my neck and legs.”
He was sent to a hospital for treatment and filed a report with police.
Another local online media outlet, HK01, was also targeted at around 1am on Saturday.
Its vehicle parked in Tseung Kwan O, a protest site at the time, was smashed, and slogans were sprayed on the car.
The Hong Kong News Executives’ Association strongly condemned the attack of the cameraman, and appealed for the public to respect the work of the press.
“Journalists can only report the facts and truth without interference and fear,” it said in a statement.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association, and Hong Kong Press Photographers Association, issued a joint statement, asking for an end to interference in reporters’ work and violent acts targeting them.
Critics have accused the media, especially the city’s biggest television broadcaster, of favouring the government and the pro-establishment camp in its coverage of the protests.
A court earlier turned down an urgent application from TVB to prohibit anyone from assaulting its crew or damaging its property.
On Friday night, some of the vigils for Chow turned ugly, with Tseung Kwan O, where he fell to his death, the scene for some of the night’s worst violence.
Some protesters set an electrical control box outside Sheung Tak Plaza on fire. Multiple loud bangs and a stream of black smoke came from the box before firefighters arrived to put out the flames. A number of street lights subsequently went out.
A group of protesters threw petrol bombs at riot police near Man Kuk Lane, and officers returned fire with shots from non-lethal weapons. At least one reporter was hit in the exchanges.
More clashes broke out in Beverly Garden, as protesters and residents hurled abuse at riot police who attempted to enter the private property.
Officers used pepper spray and at one point, aimed guns at reporters, with security guards failing to mediate between the groups.
After officers retreated, a man called police on his phone to complain about an illegal assembly. He was pushed to the ground by protesters, kicked and left with head injuries that required hospital treatment.
This article Attack on cameraman by Hong Kong protesters condemned by city’s media groups first appeared on South China Morning Post