A furious crowd of people in white shirts attacked protesters in a train station in Yuen Long, Hong Kong, on Sunday night, intensifying the standoff between Hong Kong’s authorities and police force and professional-democracy protesters.
About 45 people were injured including at least one critically — when a mob of mostly masked men in white t-shirts ambushed black-clad protesters and innocent bystanders in the train station, hitting them with bamboo sticks, wooden rods, and other objects.
The professional-democracy activists were on their method house from a rally in central Hong Kong in which police discharged tear gas at demonstrators and accused them of throwing bricks and other projectiles.
It’s unclear who exactly the train station attackers were, but many suspect them of having ties to Hong Kong’s dominant triads: organized criminal gangs often introduced to as the “Chinese mafia.” There is also speculation among activists the attackers were at the very least encouraged by the Chinese central government in Beijing, which backs Carrie Lam’s government and has been trying to quell these protests for weeks.
The lackluster police response to emergency calls from victims during the mob attack is adding to the perception that the Hong Kong government and its Chinese backers sanctioned the assault as a technique to send a powerful message to demonstrators.
But if the attack was intended to satisfy protesters to shut their mouths and go home, it seems to have done just the opposite.