Mask Ban Adds Fuel to the Fire of Violence Already Burning in the Streets of Hong Kong


Kassidy Haggard, National and World News

        A mask ban in Hong Kong was put into place Monday of last week, and many protesters have reacted violently in response to it. Carrie Lam, Hong Kong leader, put this law into action in an attempt to stop the violence that had been rocketing through the Hong Kong streets for months, which began with the extradition law. At first, these protests were almost all peaceful, but violence slowly grew, and now the streets have become dangerous.

       While putting the ban into effect was well intentioned and aimed to stop the violence and protect civilians, it appears that the ban worsened the situation.  Some protesters have attacked officers with petrol bombs, and have even set buildings on fire. In addition, those with different views from the protesters were attacked, and many were left with terrible injuries which could end up being life-threatening. 

         Those who were attacked included a taxi driver, which protesters dragged out of his car after he drove into a group of them and beat him until he was bleeding. An older man was also beaten to the ground with a stick after he began to threaten the crowd while shirtless, and a Hong Kong actress was punched because she was taking photos of those who were vandalizing a bank and because she supported the police publicly. 

        People were arrested for not only violating the mask-ban–it has been noted that police have been lacking when it comes to arresting those who attack the protesters–but also for attacking police officers, attacking civilians such as those mentioned, and even for arson. Kwok Yam-Yung, the Regional Commander of New Territories North has made it known that “if the victims of such horrific attacks die from their injuries, all of the offenders are liable for prosecution for murder.” It’s safe to say that the mask-ban has only increased the violence on Hong Kong’s streets instead of helping protect the people as Carrie Lam had hoped it would. 

        Since the mask-ban was put into action, there have been almost upward of 70 people arrested. Some were arrested for using face masks during protests, others were arrested when the police told them to take their masks off and they refused to comply. The youngest of those arrested was 12 years old.  After the mask-ban was brought into effect, kids began to wear masks to school. They began their own protests because of their disagreement with the ban and because of the teenage boy who was shot and injured by a police officer during a protest. The violence which had been growing was largely because of anger in relation to police conduct. After the teenager was shot, fuel was only added to the fire and anger.

       Speaking of fire, protesters have set bonfires ablaze in addition to the fires they have already been setting to buildings. These bonfires were placed in the entrances to subway stations because protesters are angry about the support the transportation seems to have for the government.  

        Many people believe the protesters are somewhat justified in their actions and anger because the government lacks when it comes to responding to the demands made by the public. Others, however, think the violence is taking things too far–especially when it begins to harm civilians, whether or not they have conflicting views with protesters. 

        There is no sign of the protests ceasing anytime soon, and it seems like whatever the government does to try and stop the violence brought by these protests only ends up making protesters angrier and their actions increasingly more violent.