A Hong Kong police official announced on Monday that 6,022 people have been arrested since protests began six months ago – 2,393 of them students and 340 under the age of 16, the youngest just 11 years old.
Public Relations Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung said the total number of arrests surpassed 6,000 over the weekend, with 42 arrests during massive rallies held to commemorate the six-month anniversary of the protest movement.
According to Kong, only about 15 percent of the people arrested have been formally charged with a crime, but given the large number of arrestees, that still makes over 900 defendants.
Among the major demands of the protest movement are dropping charges against demonstrators arrested unfairly and investigating the use of force by police officers. Kong said about 1,300 formal complaints have been filed against police officers, but declined to state how many have been disciplined or suspended as a result.
One of the highest-profile prosecutions related to the protests moved forward on Monday as five men were charged with planning a gun and bomb attack against police officers during last Sunday’s demonstrations.
According to prosecutors, the defendants – several of them students, all in their early 20s – used the encrypted messaging platform Telegram to plan a bomb detonation during the protest march and then open fire on police responders. The police confiscated a gun and over 100 rounds of ammunition, plus several bladed weapons, batons, bulletproof vest materials, and pepper spray, from the defendants.
A survey from the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI) released over the weekend gave the Hong Kong police the lowest public approval rating among all of the city’s “disciplinary services,” including the fire department and medical service.
The police actually scored lower than the Hong Kong garrison of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), although pollsters said every agency except the Auxiliary Medical Service saw a significant decline in approval compared to last year.