KOWLOON DISTURBANCES 1966 REPORT OF COMMISSION OF INQUIRY || Special Committee Reports || Riots

 Kowloon Disturbances 1966

Report of



1967


KOWLOON DISTURBANCES 1966

REPORT

OF

COMMISSION OF INQUIRY


Printed and Published by J. R. Lee, Acting Government Printer at the Government Press, Java Road, Hong Kong



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Part

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

Subject

Introduction

The ‘Star’ Ferry

fare ISSUE

Chapter Subject

1 Appointment and Terms of

Reference . . . .

2 Procedure . . . .

3 Background to our Inquiry .

The Disturbances

1

2

3

4

5

The Measures 1

Taken to Deal

WITH THE

Disturbances 3

Persons Involved

Conclusions

Index to Appendices

Introduction .

The events of 4/5th April .

The events of 6th April

The events of the night 6/7th April

The events of the 7/8th April

The events of the 8/9th April

The Police........................

The Curfew........................

The Army and Auxiliary Defence

Units...........................

1 The Two Urban Councillors .

2 The Demonstrators and Rioters .

1 The immediate causes of the

disturbances

2 Alleged causes of underlying unrest or discontent .

Concluding Statement .

Paragraphs

1-2

3-17

18-39

40-78

79-80

81 -102

103 -128 129-177 178-212 213-219

220 - 253

254 - 269

270-291

292 - 327

328 - 392

393 - 450

451 -553

554 - 556

PART I

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER 1. APPOINTMENT AND TERMS OF REFERENCE

We were appointed on 3rd May, 1966 under the Commissioners Powers Ordinance

‘To inquire into and report on—

(a) the disturbances in Kowloon between the 5th and 8th of April, ~ 1966, inclusive;

(b) the events leading up to such disturbances; and

(c) the causes thereof’.

2. A copy of the instrument of appointment appears at Appendix 1.

CHAPTER 2

PROCEDURE

3. On appointment, we met to consider the procedure which, subject to the Ordinance and to the terms of our appointment, we should adopt for this inquiry, and determined it after an examination of the reports of a number of similar commissions or tribunals in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

4. We appointed Counsel and a Solicitor to assist us in collecting, examining and presenting the material on which we have based our report. We would like here to acknowledge the assistance given to us by our Counsel Mr. Denys Roberts, O.B.E., Q.C., then Solicitor General, assisted by Mr. F. G. Cooke, Senior Crown Counsel and by our Solicitor Mr. John Sanders.

5. We issued a general invitation to the public, asking those who had knowledge of matters relevant to the Inquiry, to submit this in written statements and we made a public announcement of the procedure we proposed to adopt in considering these statements. This invitation was widely published and special arrangements were made, with the co-operation of the Commissioner of Prisons, for its notification throughout prisons and training centres in the Colony.

6. In order to be as accessible as possible to the public, our sittings were, at the outset, held in the City Hall. When that was damaged by floods in June we continued in the nearby Supreme Court.

2

PART I INTRODUCTION

7. We held the opening public session of the Commission on the 11th May and outlined the procedure we proposed to follow, at the same time announcing that we would modify it at any time should this appear desirable.

8. We indicated that counsel for the Commission would be asked to examine the statements sent in and to adduce from them material relevant to our proceedings; that if he should decide not to call any potential witness, there would be a right of appeal to the Commission; that any individual whose evidence was to be adduced would, unless in particular cases we decided otherwise, be asked to come forward at a public session to give evidence on oath or affirmation; and that he would be examined in the first instance by counsel for the Commission, thereafter, if represented by counsel, his own counsel would have an opportunity of questioning him, as would any counsel representing parties who satisfied us they had an interest in his testimony; and finally he would be re-examined by counsel for the Commission. The Commissioners could, of course, put questions if they wished. Reference was made to Section 4 of the Commissioners Powers Ordinance, which provides protection against civil proceedings and, in addition, the public was told that the Attorney General had authorized the chairman to say on his behalf that any statement made before the Inquiry would not be used in any criminal proceedings, other than proceedings for perjury before the Commission or contempt.

9. Thereafter, we considered requests for representation before the Commission. A list of those who were so represented appears in Appendix 2. The contention that the Commissioners Powers Ordinance contemplates audience for both solicitor and barrister was not questioned and we acceded to it.

10. With the exception of a number of statements from academic and social welfare circles which we found of benefit in forming our views, comparatively few statements were received from members of the public and these generally proved of little value since few related to the actual events of the disturbances or contained adequate evidence as to the causes: furthermore, some were anonymous.

11. Our staff, however, took steps to obtain statements from a substantial number of individuals who seemed likely to be able to assist us in determining the course of events during and immediately preceding the riots. From amongst them our counsel called those who could provide the most material evidence to give sworn testimony in public. As a result we have had evidence as to what occurred from a number of individuals who took part in or observed the events between the 5th and 8th April; including demonstrators, individuals convicted of offences, the Commissioner and other police officers, press and television reporters, photographers, bus drivers and others.

12. We spent the morning of June 7th in Kowloon visiting the location of major incidents mentioned in evidence before the Commission and gaining a

PART I INTRODUCTION

3

general impression of the physical environment in the areas where the disturbances had taken place. We also visited the Police/Military operations room at the Kowloon Police Headquarters. I

13. In order to assist our understanding of the events, we viewed news films taken during the disturbances and inspected the press reports and records of broadcasts made during this period. In addition we had access to relevant records of court proceedings in respect of persons sentenced for riot offences who gave evidence before us.

14. We have also had available to us an analysis of certain factors relating to more than 300 of the individuals convicted of offences connected with the riots, who had not given evidence. In addition, a more detailed survey was carried out by social workers at our request of 24 younger offenders in a remand centre. The results of these two surveys are mentioned in Part V of this report.

15. A number of those who had come forward with statements covering sociological matters relevant to our Inquiry also gave us valuable oral testimony within this field.

16. 64 witnesses were examined, all in public. In addition, a substantial amount of written material, mainly on sociological matters, was made available to us, and we have, of course, had access to a number of publications dealing with fiscal and economic problems relevant to our Inquiry.

17. The last witness was heard on 17th August and thereafter, at the request of counsel, we gave a short adjournment to' enable them to prepare their final submissions which were completed on 2nd September.

CHAPTER 3. THE BACKGROUND TO OUR INQUIRY

18. Although the basic facts of Hong Kong’s political, economic and social circumstances are fairly widely known, we feel that it is essential to an understanding of the narrative, commentary and conclusions in subsequent chapters of this report that we include here a few notes on some of the salient features of the Colony.

19. The People. From a population which had been reduced during the Japanese occupation to about 600,000 in August 1945, there was a rapid increase in the months following the liberation to a figure of approximately 1,800,000 at the end of 1947. Thereafter, the numbers rose dramatically with successive influxes of refugees from Kwangtung province, from Shanghai and from many other parts of China and had reached a total of 3,133,131 at the time of the census in March 1961. Further increases, both natural and in the form of immigrants from China, raised the total to nearly 3| million persons in April 1966.

4


PART I INTRODUCTION

20. The size of this population, which is mainly contained in a relatively small proportion of the total area of the Colony, is sufficient to justify the conclusion that Hong Kong’s major problem is a ‘problem of people’. The 1961 census also drew attention to some distinctive features of the population which are relevant to later chapters of this report; viz,

(a) the number of Hong Kong bom (1,482,887 of all ages) was less than 40% of the population; and

(Z>) about 40% of the population was under the age of 15.

21. The implications of these figures in terms of provision of employment and housing and social services are self evident; for example, the report of the 1961 census classified the housing of 726,577 persons as ‘gravely inadequate’. On the other hand, the labour force was found to be unusually high (1,211,759) and the incidence of unemployment very low (approx. 16,000).

22. The Place. The total area of the Colony is approximately 400 square miles, of which about 365 square miles are held on lease from China. The focus of the Colony has traditionally been the harbour, around which the commercial, industrial and residential districts have grown up with the development of the economy and the increase in population.

23. Although there has been a considerable movement of population from the older areas of development on the northern shoreline of Hong Kong Island and the southern end of the Kowloon peninsula to more outlying areas, the greatest densities of population and consequently the most acute struggle for space occurs in these areas.

24. Differences between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. The fact that the serious rioting in 1956 and the far less serious disturbances which took place in April 1966 occurred in Kowloon and not in Victoria (Hong Kong Island) suggests that there may be some differences in the population or in the physical environment of the two cities.

25. There is little evidence of any significant difference between the population of the two cities either in terms of age composition or origin, but the Hong Kong population is less than half that of Kowloon and New Kowloon combined.

26. The physical features and geographical setting of the two cities are notably different and lead to markedly different community groupings on the two shores of the harbour. In Hong Kong the narrow strip of foreshore accommodates the business area mainly in its Central District, with residential areas in the east, south and western fringes and with a fairly sharp dividing line between the higher and lower income districts; many of the former being situated on the higher levels of the Peak or the more distant parts of the Island, approachable only at higher

PART I INTRODUCTION

5

transport costs. The social stratification of the Island residents is thus intensified by a physical one with the result that those who live there are possibly less frequently confronted by the social and financial gap than are those in Kowloon.

27. In Kowloon, owing to its later development, its flatter topography and its wide straight streets, most of the districts are of easy access to one another, even on foot, and there is not the same marked zoning of the lower and higher income residential areas. Nor is there the same segregation of the business and banking areas from the main shopping and residential areas. These are closer and more interspersed in Kowloon than they are in Hong Kong, which tends to produce a very different atmosphere in the centres of the two cities, particularly at night. In Hong Kong the centre is quiet after dusk, although there is plenty of life and vitality in the outlying lower income residential areas to the east and the west, which also have busy shopping centres. The main axis in Kowloon, Nathan Road, is, on the other hand, full of life and vitality, with people and traffic thronging virtually its entire length until midnight or later. The juxtaposition of lower income residential areas, high class shops which stay open later, many cinemas, restaurants, hotels and places of entertainment gives the street a lively, vibrant, busy, bustling character that is absent, in the evenings, from the central districts of Hong Kong. The lower proportion of government offices and offices of commercial firms as well as the lower ratio of public playgrounds and open spaces in Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok help to create a greater concentration of people in the brightly lit entertainment and shopping areas in the heart of Kowloon. This is particularly noticeable in the stretch of Nathan Road running north from Jordan Road to beyond Mong Kok. This fine wide street is a natural magnet for anyone seeking the attention of a crowd by means of a street demonstration.

28. The Economy, The growth of Hong Kong’s economy rests on the stability of the Colony, its status as a free port and the high standard of protection it affords to person and property, under the rule of law. To these, combined with the administration’s policy of minimum interference in industrial and commercial life, the acumen and enterprise of industrialists and managers, both immigrant and locally bom, and an intelligent and hard-working labour force, has been attributed its rapid industrial growth in recent years; whilst its development as a centre of banking, insurance and commerce has been outstanding.

29. Growth has been remarkable and the difficulties encountered in the transition from entrepot to manufacturing centre are now largely forgotten. Exports and re-exports have grown from a figure of $3,210 million in 1956 to $6,530 million in 1965 and the number of tourists visiting the Colony has increased from about 50,000 to 450,000 in the same period.

30. According to available statistics, this growth in the economy has been accompanied by substantial increases in wage rates and relatively small increases in the cost of living. The Hong Kong Government Salaries Commission reported

6

PART I INTRODUCTION

in 1965 that it accepted the data in the Household Expenditure Survey and Consumer Price Index as indicating an increase in the cost of living of some 14% between 1958 and 1965. This compared with figures collected by the Labour Department of the Hong Kong Government indicating an average increase in wage rates in certain sectors of manufacturing industry of 73% over the same period.

31. Nevertheless, it is clear that there was some slowing down in the hitherto rapid rate of growth of the economy in 1965 and that public confidence was affected by a banking crisis and a recession in real estate. These worries about the economy form a prominent part of the comment in subsequent chapters of the report and it is not proposed to dwell on them here, other than to show that there were domestic reasons for public concern about the economy as well as the usual external ones. The latter arise from the dependence of the economy on the export to a limited number of markets of a limited number of products in an international atmosphere of quotas and controls and on the tourist trade which is sensitive to factors such as the Vietnam War.

32. The Society, The insecurity of the international political situation in which Hong Kong exists is a matter apparently more frequently commented on by visitors than by residents—and the residents’ apparent indifference to this situation is itself a subject for comment. However, this apparent indifference would seem to arise more from feelings of optimism and of an inability to influence the situation than from a failure to appreciate its realities.

33. The 1961 census found little distinction between new-comers and longtime residents of Hong Kong in their ability to find work, and this seems to reflect a lack of prejudice in the community. This attitude generally extends also to relations between the races in Hong Kong, although there is evidence of misconceptions on both sides.

34. Nevertheless, it is obvious that Hong Kong is not a single community in terms of accepted traditions and values. This concept is also reflected in the description of Hong Kong as ‘an economy; not a nation’. Various factors pointing to a certain lack of cohesion in our society will be discussed in later parts of this report.

35. The reasons for an inquiry. It is obvious that the pressures due to overcrowding in the twin cities of Victoria and Kowloon, combined with the hard struggle for a living, which is increased by the need for many of the population to assist families in China in addition to their own dependents in Hong Kong, the lack of homogeneity in the population and the underlying insecurity of life in the Colony, resulting from international political and economic conditions, create tensions which elsewhere would be more than sufficient cause for frequent disturbances.

PART I INTRODUCTION

7

36. The fact that Hong Kong has only experienced one riot in the previous ten years is a tribute to the general patience and good sense of the population and the vigilance of the police force. It also explains the shock which the community experienced in April 1966, when demonstrations escalated into rioting. The Governor’s initiative in promising, on April 7th, an inquiry into the causes was widely welcomed at the time.

37. The need for an inquiry into a riot which caused few casualties and comparatively little damage has been subsequently questioned and the events of April have been overtaken in the public mind by the serious rains and flooding in June and by the cultural revolution in China. It is therefore worth mentioning that the significance of this riot lay in the rarity of riots in Hong Kong together with the fact that Hong Kong, with so large a proportion of its population crowded into the urban areas, is so small that riots here have a much greater effect on the whole community than riots of far greater size and with a significantly greater number of casualties in a large country. A riot in Hong Kong is a national event and can readily incapacitate a great part of the Colony.

38. One further important factor in people’s assessment of the significance of riots to the community arises from Hong Kong’s growing dependence on foreign investment and tourism to maintain its social and economic progress. Many people in the community remember the financial loss to the Colony occasioned by the 1956 riots. In April, the population had been apprehensive about the economic future as a result of the banking and building crisis and was anxious to avoid anything which might spark off another trade recession or shake foreign confidence in the stability of the Colony. Hong Kong could not afford it and on every hand was heard, ‘This must not happen again’. How could it be avoided? The first step was to find out how the disturbances started and then apply the lessons learned.

39. The format of our report. In approaching the task of reporting on the results of our inquiry we propose, having first referred in very general terms to a few of the more prominent features of the background, to proceed to a closer examination of the climate of opinion on price increases generally and public transport fares in particular (Part II The Star Ferry Fares Issue); then to describe in some detail the events of the week beginning April 4th (Part III The Disturbances); then to consider the measures taken by the security forces (Part IV The Measures Taken To Deal With The Disturbances); and then to examine the part played by two Urban Councillors (Part V Chapter 1 The Two Urban Councillors) and determine what sort of people joined the demonstrations and riots—what were their motives and what did they seek to achieve (Part V Chapter 2 The Demonstrators and Rioters): finally we devote two chapters to examining the immediate causes of the disturbances and alleged causes of underlying unrest or discontent (Part VI).

PART II *

THE STAR FERRY FARE ISSUE

40. The ‘Star’ Ferry Company Limited is a public company with a paid up capital of $2.4 million and over 500 registered shareholders. It is the smallest of the companies which operate the major public transport facilities in the urban areas of the Colony (two bus companies, one tramway and two ferry companies) under franchises granted by the Government.

41. The company operates two passenger ferry services between Edinburgh Place in the Central District of Hong Kong and points on the Kowloon Peninsula. These services are of great importance in linking the urban areas on either side of the harbour and during 1965 carried an average of 150,000 passengers daily. The Company employs 14 ferries on these services and provides what is generally acknowledged to be a high standard of service.

42. The operation of the services is governed by the ‘Star’ Ferry Company (Services) Ordinance which lays down the rights and liabilities of the franchise and, in particular, stipulates the payment of pier rent and royalty to the Government and the fares and charges which may be levied by the Company. The relevant section of the Ordinance dealing with fares is shown at Appendix 3. It provides for the Company to charge such fares as may be fixed by the Govemor-in-Council as fair and reasonable having regard as well to the Company as the general public. It also enables the Company, in the event of a material change of economic or financial conditions or any other circumstances affecting the ferry service to submit the question of fare increases to arbitration if the fares fixed by the Governor-in-Council are not reasonably remunerative: and there is provision for the Governor-in-Council to submit the question to arbitration if the fares and charges are unduly high. The section also provides for the Govemor-in-Council to vary the rate of royalty in lieu of increasing or decreasing fares.

43. The general fare structure of the Company’s service has remained unchanged from 1st April, 1946 with the exception of an increase in August 1951 in monthly ticket charges.

Application for fare increase

44. On 1st October, 1965 the Company applied for an increase in fares. The reasons put forward in support of this application can be summarized as follows:

PART II THE STAR FERRY FARE ISSUE

9

(a) Higher operating costs due to wage and salary increases and higher maintenance costs of piers and vessels. Figures produced by the Company’s auditors showed that operating costs in 1965 were 23% higher than in 1964. This increase was largely attributable to the introduction of the service between Hong Kong Island and Hung Hom in June 1965 at Government’s request.

(Z?) The Company’s estimates of passenger traffic growth showed that increased operating costs would not be compensated by an increase in revenue from the services.

(c) The end of the Company’s concession in 1979 had necessitated the introduction of a more rapid rate of depreciation for new ferries and the decision to proceed with the construction of a cross harbour tunnel to be opened in about 1970 had introduced a larger element of risk into the Company’s operations.

Public Opposition to Passenger Transport Fare Increases

45. Prior to the Company’s application for an increase, a number of articles had appeared in part of the Chinese press drawing attention to rumours that discussions were in progress on public transport fare increases which were to be justified on the pretext of increased operation costs. Prominence was given to the unfavourable reactions of certain civic leaders and some editorial comment was extremely critical. The assumption that any increase would be large seems to have been fairly general, e.g. ‘How could a family of five mouths afford extra expenses of several tens of dollars a month?’ (morning paper 15/9), and Government was urged by one paper to allay public fears of such an increase, described as ‘a challenge to the public interest’.

46. Opposition to an increase in public transport fares took a number of forms. The most widely published appear to have been the following.

(a) Past profits and future growth potential

None of the commentators seems to have envisaged either a temporary pause or a permanent halt in the growth of passenger transport. This attitude is illustrated by one paper’s statement ‘Everyone knows that public transport companies have reaped and will continue to reap huge profits every year. The increase of their expenses has been more than offset by their increased income from the increasing number of passengers’ (evening paper 14/9).

(Z>) Poor Service

Some of the comment stressed that the public considered the public

transport services in general to be far from satisfactory and that the companies tended to show more concern for making a profit than for

10

PART II THE STAR FERRY FARE ISSUE

(c) Special position of monopoly undertakings

It was suggested that whereas ordinary private enterprises were entitled to strive for the maximum profits, public transport companies were under a special obligation to the public because their operations are protected by franchise.

(d) Harmful effect on economic stability

Many of the comments stated that any increase in public transport fares would lead inevitably to a general increase in prices and have an adverse effect on the economy. Some stressed the point that the hardships of higher fares would fall mainly on the poorer classes; other feared a further weakening of Hong Kong’s economic situation at a time of business depression.

47. The conclusion reached in the bulk of the press comment at this time was that Government must reject any application for fare increases, even if justified, in the overriding interests of avoiding a spiral of price increases. One paper suggested (Sept. 16th) that the fares could be reduced in view of the profits which public transport companies had made in the past.

48. Throughout this, there was little comment by the public transport companies or by Government and it appears that only two papers mentioned the fact that present charges were not high, taking into account the current level of the cost of living, and that an increase might be justified. One paper mentioned on September 16th that the alternative would be to increase taxes to subsidize public transport. However, even these papers stressed the strength of public opposition to any increase in fares.

49. Comment in this vein continued through October, 1965 and both the Chairman and the Secretary of the Advisory Committee on Public Transport, the forerunner of the Transport Advisory Committee, were attacked for reported statements that fare increases were inevitable and were not necessarily a disaster if they were essential to the improvement of service or the maintenance of an acceptable standard of service (morning and evening papers October 6th). A suggestion by the Chairman of the A.C.P.T. on 20th October that the people of Hong Kong ‘are prepared to pay for an efficient system of transport at reasonable standards rather than put up with an inadequate but cheaper service’ was widely criticized.

50. A Legislative Councillor was quoted as saying that he doubted whether an increase in fares would result in an improvement in services, and the unfavourable reactions of certain civic leaders were prominently reported in most papers. The critics lost no time in putting forward the view that the A.C.P.T.’s widely published acceptance of the inevitability, and possibly the desirability, of fare

PART II THE STAR FERRY FARE ISSUE

11

increases would encourage other companies to apply and gave the impression that increases were the idea of the authorities rather than the need of the companies themselves. It was also suggested that much of the excessive profits made by the Companies was channelled back to Government in the form of royalties and profit tax and it was implied that Government had a direct interest in increased fares. Recent increases by Government in school fees and water charges were alluded to. No mention was made of the insignificant part played by the royalty in relation to Star Ferry fares: it was in fact too small to affect the matter either way.

51. When it was confirmed by Government on October 28th that the Star Ferry Company had applied for a fares increase it is hardly surprising, in the light of this background, that the news was greeted with a barrage of opposition. On 28/29th October the Chinese press contained a number of editorials strongly opposing the application and this trend continued thereafter. The main theme was that an increase in the fares of one public transport undertaking would inevitably lead to increases in the others; and that this would increase the burden on the shoulders of the less fortunate sections of the community and would lead to general price inflation. One newspaper said that ‘The introduction of increases in public transport fares is a major issue which will likely create chain reactions, cause general inflation, upset the economy and affect people’s livelihood’. A number of other papers also referred to chain reactions and urged Government to refuse the application. The only commendation came in a comment applauding Government’s action in making public the receipt of an application rather than merely announcing it after a decision had been made and it was too late for the public to express opposition. None of the press comments appears to have mentioned the provisions of the legislation regarding the Company’s right to resort to arbitration in the event of an application for a fare increase being refused.

52. Press comment during November generally stressed the unfavourable timing of the Star Ferry Company’s application and referred frequently to economic recession and fears of inflation. The press gave prominence to widespread public opposition and a feeling that public transport company profits were already excessive and unjustified by the standard of service provided. The opposition of a number of civic bodies (kaifongs, trade unions, the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association, the Civic Association, and the Kowloon and the Chinese General Chambers of Commerce) was highlighted and the hope expressed that Government would bow to public opinion. On 4th November, it was reported that the Civic Association had resolved to hold a mass meeting if the situation justified it. The Company sought to explain the proposed new fare structure in a statement and press conference on 4th November. However, these failed to convince and almost all editorials followed a common theme—that the fare increase was unjustifiable and should be rejected by Government if not withdrawn by the Company.

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PART II THE STAR FERRY FARE ISSUE

53. On November 11th, prominence was given to a statement by the Hon. Y. K. Kan, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Public Transport, that it was unlikely an early decision could be reached on the application and giving an explanation of the arbitration procedure to which resort would be made in the event of a deadlock. Certain papers criticized reference to arbitration apparently without being aware that this was the law and not within Mr. Kan’s powers to decide. It was also reported that Mrs. Elliott, an elected member of the Urban Council, had launched a signature collecting campaign for a petition to H.E. The Governor to oppose fare increases in public transport services. Together with the report was a form which she asked residents to sign and send to her for submission to the Governor. The form simply said, T agree to the contents of the petition opposing increase in fares of public transport’. From evidence given to us it seems doubtful whether many who signed this or other forms knew what was in the petition and it is to be noted that this form refers to public transport generally and not simply to Star Ferry fares.

54. On 17th November, it was reported that more than 3,000 residents had signed Mrs. Elliott’s petition and it was announced that the campaign had been extended for another week. Meanwhile a number of petitions opposing the proposed fare increase had been sent in by certain civic bodies. On 22nd November it was reported that the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association had issued copies of the petition to its member factories to be signed and attached to Mrs. Elliott’s petition.

55. On 23rd November Mrs. Elliott presented a petition at Government House stated to bear 23,000 signatures together with a covering letter which pointed to the degree of public opposition to public transport fare increases as evidenced by the individual signatures, of which she said she had been promised a further 100,000, and by the views of civic bodies and trade associations which had already expressed their opposition. This was widely reported in the press and her action supported. A further attempt by the Star Ferry Company’s Chairman on 25th November to defend the increases and correct apparent misapprehensions was unsuccessful and received further criticism. A report, on the same day, of the setting up of the Transport Advisory Committee with Mr. Kan as Chairman and including Mrs. Elliott was generally welcomed but some sections of the press questioned the attitude which it would take on the issue of the Star Ferry Company’s application in view of the known views of its Chairman and Secretary, but no comment of this kind seems to have been made about Mrs. Elliott’s views. When the Star Ferry Company’s application was referred by Government to this committee on December 1st, press comment tended to die down, with only occasional mention of various organizations submitting their views to Government and reiterated opposition in editorials to any increase.

PART II THE STAR FERRY FARE ISSUE

13

Mrs. Elliott’s Petition

56. In her evidence before us Mrs. Elliott explained that she had decided to organize a public petition as a result of seeing, through the medium of Government’s daily Chinese Press Summaries, the fears expressed in the Chinese press of fare increases causing a spiral of price increases. She also told us how she had been assisted in obtaining signatures by the press publicity given to her campaign and by various organization whose support she had requested.

57. The petition submitted on 23rd November stated four reasons for opposing the Star Ferry Company’s application which can be summarized as follows:

(d) the Company’s past profits had been excessive for a public utility (the figures were quoted);

(b) the proposed fare increase would increase the Company’s revenue by a figure far in excess of the amount required to maintain the present standard of service;

(c) if Government accepted the Star Ferry Company’s application, it would be a signal for other companies to apply and such applications would be difficult, if not impossible, to refuse; and

(d) the burden of extra fares would fall on those least able to pay and the general economic situation was most unsuited to a general fare increase, even if this was justified by profits having fallen to an unacceptably low level.

58. The petition drew attention to the need to: (a) establish a yardstick to determine adequacy of service—and suggested that the current Passenger Transport Survey would deal with this by the end of 1966; (Z>) stipulate a reasonable level of profit for public transport companies as had been done by Government in the case of the Hong Kong Telephone Company; and (c) consider reducing royalty before raising fares.

59. Finally, the petition requested: (a) that all applications for fare increases submitted during the following 12 months be closely studied but none approved during the period; (Z>) that the full report of the Passenger Transport Survey and the study of the finances 'both past and present of the public transport companies be made public as soon as practical; and (c) that no steps be taken behind closed doors to raise fares or initiate other measures to the detriment of the public.

60. Taken by themselves these were cogent and attractive arguments but they ignored a vital factor: the terms of the Company’s franchise.

61. A reply to this petition was sent on 8th December and released to the press. The reply noted the views expressed and stated that ‘it is the intention of

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PART II THE STAR FERRY FARE ISSUE

Government, before a decision is taken, to seek advice on the application of the Star Ferry Company Limited from the newly-formed Transport Advisory Committee of which you are a member. It is within the competence of this Committee to report its views on the appropriateness of fares charged by public transport companies and to communicate with the public on this matter. The Chairman of the Committee has already publicly stated that he will do his best to ensure that the views of the public are communicated to the Committee and it may be reasonably assumed that members of the Committee will endeavour to make themselves fully aware of public opinion on matters referred to them’. It is to be noted that this letter also made no reference to the terms of the Ferry Franchise and the limits this might place on giving effect to public opinion.

62. On 12th January, 1966 Mrs. Elliott presented a second petition pur-

porting to contain a further 155,000 signatures in opposition to passenger transport fare increases. She was quoted in an English newspaper as saying, ‘I am personally opposed to any kind of fares increase as I don’t think the public can support it

at this time. It’s simply a case of the people’s interest weighed against a few

people who are by no means in need of the extra profit they wish to make out of the public’. She is also reported as having made a plea for all the details connected with the application to be published.

The Transport Advisory Committee

63. On 1st December, 1965 the Company’s application was referred to the Transport Advisory Committee which has an unofficial Chairman and fourteen members of whom eight are private citizens and six are Government officials. This Committee considered the application, made further investigations and submitted a majority and a minority report on 17th March, 1966.

64. The majority report, signed by all but one of the Committee members, examined various aspects of the ferry company’s application and recommended a revised fare schedule which is set out in Appendix 4, subject to a regular annual review of fares to ensure that profits were maintained at a rate of return on capital employed which the Committee considered to be reasonable. The effect of the revised fare schedule proposed was to increase the price of monthly tickets and first class tickets but to leave unchanged the price of 2nd class tickets.

65. Since both the majority and minority reports have been published, it would be superfluous to summarize the contents here. However it is of importance to highlight certain aspects of the two reports in view of the evidence before us that they were the subject of wide misunderstanding.

Majority Report

66. The Committee’s report deals at some length with the main arguments of those opposed to an increase: namely that Star Ferry fare increases were not

PART II THE STAR FERRY FARE ISSUE

15

justified; that if the Committee found them to be justified, they would be unable to refuse applications from other public transport companies for fare increases; and that any fare increase would have a serious inflationary effect on the economy. The majority report tried to allay public fears regarding the direct and indirect effects of an increase by pointing out that expenditure on Star Ferry fares constituted only .075% of average household expenditure (3.2% for all transport expenditure) and therefore any increase would have a scarcely perceptible effect on consumer prices and the economy as a whole. It also tried to counter the argument that price increases weighed most heavily on the poorer sections of the community by recommending that increases be restricted to first class fares only. Finally, it pointed out that the public would have a chance to comment on the recommendations before a decision was made by Government. Public reaction to these arguments will be considered below.

67. The Committee did not however accept entirely the Company’s proposed fare structure nor the level of ‘fair remuneration’ proposed by the Company. Furthermore, the Committee strongly recommended amendment of the legislation to introduce a range within which profits should be allowed to vary and outside which fares should be varied. This was designed to obviate the difficulty presented by the existing statutory arrangements under which, according to the legal opinion given to the Committee, past profits could not be considered.

68. The Committee also mentioned the possibility of reducing royalties but did not recommend this course because the low pier rents paid by the Company amount to a subsidy roughly commensurate with royalty payments.

69. Finally, the Committee stated that its terms of reference and the relevant legislation provided a legal framework within which its recommendations had to be made but this attracted very little attention.

Minority Report

70. In Mrs. Elliott’s minority report, no mention was made of the statutory provisions within which the Committee was required to work nor, in particular, of the legal opinion referred to in paragraph 82 of the majority report that ‘in acting to vary fares the Governor-in-Council should look to the future . . . .’ Mrs. Elliott’s report simply states, ‘I strongly disagree with the Committee’s view that past high profits (very much higher than now recommended) should not be taken into account when considering the need to raise the fares now’. •»

71. Although her report is critical of the forecasts of passenger traffic revenue and operating costs etc. made by the Company and the Committee, she avoided making any forecasts of her own or any statement as to what she considered a reasonable return or what substantial cost savings could be achieved without impairing the service.

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Public comment after release of Transport Advisory Committee’s report

72. During March 1966 a number of reports had appeared in the press forecasting approval by the T.A.C. of the Star Ferry Company’s application. These were coupled with criticism of the Committee for failing to seek the views of the public which, it was claimed, was strongly opposed to increases.

73. On March 19th official announcements were reported of increases in postal charges for letters to China, Taiwan, and Macau and of fees for use of the facilities in the City Hall. It was also reported that the rents for certain low cost housing estates would be increased by 10% on 1st April. These reports aroused strong editorial criticism in certain papers of the authorities taking the lead in increasing charges and thereby adding to the burden of the poor. It was claimed that Government action would be widely interpreted as setting an example for the public utility companies to follow.

74. These reports were linked with further reports of tax increases in the budget proposals (increases in petrol and tobacco duty and in vehicle licence fees and increased rates of salaries and profits tax) and of proposed increases in parking fees. Most sections of the press and a large number of named public leaders were critical of the bunching together of these increases, emphasizing that it was not the individual increases which were so significant, but the ‘inflation caused by chain reactions touched off by these increases that would deal a serious blow to the poor section of the community’.

75. Between 20th March and the start of the disturbances with which this report deals the Chinese press gave prominence to reports of the unfavourable reactions of some public leaders and civic bodies to the Transport Advisory Committee’s report and to speculation as to whether other public utilities would follow suit. Although copies of the Report were made available to the Press, little or no publicity appears to have been given to the actual recommendations in the report nor to the reasons stated for these recommendations and it is clear from some of the comment that these were either misunderstood or ignored. Generally the criticism rested on the Committee’s failure to accept public opinion and on its conclusions that an increase in the Star Ferry fare would have little effect on other prices and the general livelihood of the community. Only one paper referred to the statutory limitations which bound the committee and the Govemor-in-Council; no mention appears to have been made of the Company’s alternative right to arbitration.

76. The English language press took no unanimous line. There were some well reasoned editorials which endeavoured to direct public opinion towards the issues involved without necessarily supporting the committee’s conclusion. One paper was critical of the timing of the proposed increase, another gave great prominence to alleged comment by Mr. LI En Yu, executive director of the

PART II THE STAR FERRY FARE ISSUE

17

Chinese Manufacturers’ Association, that he had been told of thousands seeking a wage rise to cover the additional cost. As will be seen from other parts of this report, comment of this kind made a considerable impact on young and impressionable minds. The same newspaper gave considerable publicity to Mrs. Elliott’s appeal on 20th March for a massive letter-writing campaign and to her subsequent appeal to 200 organizations on 3rd April: this appeal and the publicity given to it was to have a significant effect on subsequent events.

77. Whilst it is clear from all this that by the beginning of April, 1966 there was widespread interest in the Star Ferry fare issue it is no less clear that the Transport Advisory Committee and the man in the street were not seeking to answer the same question. The man in the street had been encouraged to think about, and to answer, a very simple query: do you want an increase in the price of transport? The Transport Advisory Committee was required to answer something quite different, viz, under the terms of its franchise, is the Star Ferry Company entitled to an increase in fares? Failure to appreciate this difference played, we think, a significant part in creating the situation which led up to the events of the 4th to 9th April.

78. It may also be noted that, in effect, as a result of referring the company’s request to the Transport Advisory Committee, a substantial part of the 12 months delay sought in Mrs. Elliott’s petition supervened and the company, as a result of the committee’s advice and Government’s ultimate decision, received considerably less than the increase in fares which had been requested: but these were matters that received little public notice.

PART III

THE DISTURBANCES

INTRODUCTION

79. In the five chapters of this part we set out in chronological sequence an account of the principal events between 4th and 9th April, as they appear from the evidence presented to us. Inevitably, in seeking an overall picture, the most comprehensive information was to be found in police sources, but we would like here to pay tribute to the assistance we have had from the very wide coverage given to these events by the press, both through photographs and text, and to the readiness of newspaper reporters and photographers to come forward and give us their own recollections of what they saw; recollections which in many cases proved to be remarkably vivid and helpful.

80. For some of the narrative, particularly for the events of the 5th and the earlier part of the 6th, we were largely dependent on statements from demonstrators, who in many respects showed themselves unreliable witnesses but, subject to particular reservations mentioned later, we think the description contained in the following chapters gives a reasonably reliable account of what occurred.

CHAPTER 1. THE EVENTS OF APRIL 4TH AND 5TH — THE DEMONSTRATIONS

81. 'The Hunger Striker". The first incident in the sequence of events preceding the demonstrations and riots in Kowloon was the appearance on 4th April, at about 9 a.m., at the Star Ferry Concourse, Hong Kong, of a young man, later identified as SO Sau Chung, aged 27 and variously described as artist, translator or unemployed. He took up a prominent position between the subway and the turnstiles, wearing a black jacket on which were painted in English and Chinese the words ‘Hail Elsie! Join hunger strike to block fare increase’, ‘Democratic’ and, in Chinese, ‘Oppose gambling’.

82. During the day he was approached by a number of newspaper and radio reporters to whom he declined to identify himself but said that his object was to maintain a hunger strike on the concourse until he collapsed or the proposal to increase the ferry fares was withdrawn. He indicated that the idea was entirely his own, though he had been inspired by the example of Mrs. Elliott and a Mr.

PART III THE DISTURBANCES

19

MA Man Fai. In an interview with a reporter of the Commercial Radio he said, ‘I consider that too many people have written in letters and writing letters cannot obtain any effect. There should be more or less some action . . . .’

83. His demonstration attracted considerable attention from passers-by and some feelings of sympathy and support. The only notable incidents during this day were when he was visited by Mrs. Elliott in the evening and by a 19 year old Eurasian youth called Raggensack on two occasions in the afternoon and evening. The former said in her evidence to us that she had told SO that, ‘I was rather worried about him being on a hunger strike and that I had already tried to take steps to get the support of civic bodies and I did not think it was necessary for him to continue his action’. SO, in reply to a Commercial Radio interviewer’s questions relating to this conversation said, Tt is a sort of encouragement. One or two sentences of encouragement and also asking me to take care of my health. But she believes that I know better what to do’.

84. In his evidence, Raggensack told us of having spent several hours watching SO before being approached by him to join in the demonstrations and of then agreeing to make a speech the next day in opposition to Star Ferry fare increases and in support of SO’s action.

85. Soon after the ferry services stopped running in the early hours of the morning of April 5th, SO returned home to sleep.

86. The activities of this young man were widely reported in the morning press and some newspapers praised his courage and expressed support for his action. Mrs. Elliott was reported as saying that the move taken by the young man could be taken as a representation of true public opinion and that many people would support him.

87. Spread of support for ‘the Hunger Striker". Shortly before 11 a.m. on 5th April, SO resumed his original position in the ferry concourse, where he continued to attract the attention of passers-by and the press. On this occasion, however, he asked a number of young people to help him and he was joined intermittently during the day by some of the youths who were prominent in later events. Photographs of SO and some of his helpers are at Plates 1 and 2.

88. The first of those to join him appears to have been a 16 year old student called AU YEUNG Yiu Wing, who described to us how SO had asked people in the crowd to give him newspapers reporting the hunger strike and how he had stepped up onto a parapet in the concourse with two other young men to help SO hold the newspapers. Later he saw a 19 year old factory worker called LO Kei join the group of demonstrators and described how SO wrote placards for his supporters to hold. After standing with SO for some time, AU YEUNG crossed the harbour accompanied by a youth with slogans painted on his jacket and they

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staged a demonstration at the ferry concourse on the Kowloon side, soliciting signatures from passers-by in blank exercise books. Shortly after, they were joined by a youth with a flag. According to AU YEUNG, the suggestion for the demonstration in Kowloon was made by SO, ‘who said something to the effect that it would not be enough to confine ourselves just to Hong Kong side, there must be activities also in Kowloon’.

89. Other similar accounts of the events of the afternoon of April 5 th were given to us by a number of the demonstrators who joined SO at the ferry concourse. Raggensack and LO Kei described how the former made a short speech in support of SO whilst Raggensack and a young factory accountant, called Miss LUI Fung Oi, gave accounts of SO’s arrest. The motives for the young people joining SO were stated as follows:

‘LO Kei: “I felt what he was doing was completely consistent with righteousness” .... “As it was a public holiday I was very glad to join him”.

Raggensack: “and then I told one of the reporters, I think, somebody should support him or help him out in a way”.

Miss LUI: “I supported him in his opposition to Star Ferry fare increases”.

Q. Had you thought about this before?

A. No.

Q. The idea came to you then, did it, as you watched So?

A. Correct’.

90. All these young people in their evidence to us denied having known each other before and all agreed that, although they opposed fare increases, they had not thought of doing anything about it until they saw SO’s protest. The single factor which brought them together was curiosity about SO and his hunger strike, which came to their attention mainly through newspaper reports.

91. SO’s arrest. Shortly after 3 p.m. on 5th April, SO moved with Raggensack to a position immediately outside the first class entrance to the ferry piers and, within a few minutes, a crowd of about 60-100 persons had gathered around him, causing an obstruction to the turnstiles. At 3.45 p.m., he was warned by police officers to move and told that if he did not do so he would be arrested. He ignored the warning. He was given a second warning. Again he refused to move and at about 4 p.m. he was arrested and taken away. There was some reaction from the crowd, a certain amount of jeering and shouting, as the Police took him away. At Central Police Station he was charged with obstruction and offered bail, which he refused.

92. Visit to Government House. Immediately after SO’s arrest, Raggensack walked over to the other demonstrators to warn them of the arrest and it was decided to go to Government House to present a petition. There is some conflict of evidence as to who prepared this petition and as to whether the intention was

PART III THE DISTURBANCES

21

to request the Governor to release SO. A group of six or seven demonstrators went by taxi to Government House where LO Kei handed in a note at about 4.35 p.m. The note read:

lHong Kong people should be proud to have someone to fight against the “fare” increase, and there should be more supporters not necessarily on hunger strike’.

According to a newspaper reporter, these words had formed part of Raggensack’s earlier speech at the ferry concourse.

93. While waiting outside Government House, this group was joined by four or five demonstrators from Kowloon who had meanwhile been warned by Miss LUI of SO’s arrest and had crossed the harbour and joined the main group. A photograph of some of the demonstrators speaking with press reporters outside Government House is at Plate 3. After handing in the note, they discussed their next move and decided to try and see Mrs. Elliott, whom they knew to be prominently connected with the opposition to ferry fare increases. Miss LUI telephoned and ascertained that she was attending an Urban Council meeting. The group dispersed when asked to do so by the Police at about 5 p.m.

94. Visit to Central Government Offices. After leaving Government House, the demonstrators walked to the Central Government Offices, where they stood with placards soliciting signatures from passers-by. Meanwhile, LO Kei, Raggensack, Miss LUI and a young man called LAM Siu Lok went up in the lift to the Urban Council Chamber seeking Mrs. Elliott and, according to some witnesses, Mr. Bernacchi, who was also attending the meeting of the Council. She was met coming out of the Chamber with Mr. Bernacchi. Both were told of SO Sau Chung’s arrest and their guidance was sought.

95. Mr. Bernacchi apparently indicated the need for police permission to demonstrate and told the group to see the Secretary of the Reform Club next morning and make a statement. What Mrs. Elliott said is not entirely clear. A journalist told us she used words to the effect that all Hong Kong would be proud of those who had helped SO ‘as it would draw attention to circumstances in Hong Kong’. Mr. Bernacchi in his evidence was not so specific as to her words, but maintained that she certainly indicated her support for what Mr. SO was doing. In her evidence to us she said that she had told them they were very brave but was worried lest they break the law.

96. Visit to Central Police Station. Mrs. Elliott, Raggensack, LO Kei, LAM Siu Lok and Miss LUI went by taxi to Central Police Station where Mrs. Elliott and Raggensack were permitted to interview SO Sau Chung at about 7.15 p.m. She offered to go bail for him which he refused and she discussed with him what course he should follow in court. SO asked Mrs. Elliott and Raggensack to carry on with his work but, again, there was some suggestion that he qualified this by an admonition not to break the law. At SO’s request, Mrs.

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Elliott agreed to go and see his parents. Meanwhile, LO Kei sought the use of a telephone and telephoned at 7.20 p.m. to the duty officer at Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station, who gave evidence to the effect that the speaker gave his name and stated that he was the leader of a demonstration and they would be holding a procession that evening in Nathan Road as a protest against the proposed Star Ferry fare increase, that ten or more would be taking part but without carrying signs or slogans and that they would keep the procession in good order. Asked for his address, he gave it and a telephone number but hung up immediately thereafter. When the duty officer phoned back to the number as a routine check, has was not available there. Apparently no mention was made on either side of the need for, or intention to seek, a permit. We were also told by Raggensack of what may have been another telephone call by LO Kei at this juncture to which we will refer later.

97. Information had already reached the police in Kowloon that demonstrators would be coming from Hong Kong to Kowloon to solicit signatures and Mr. Sutcliffe (Acting Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police in Kowloon) had given instructions that, provided they did not cause obstruction, they were not to be interfered with at the Star Ferry, but their movements should be watched by uniformed and plain clothes police.

98. The Demonstration March. After visiting SO’s parents with Mrs. Elliott and bringing his mother back to Central Police Station to visit her son, the young people walked to the Star Ferry where they met the rest of the group which had demonstrated outside the Central Government Offices. They then crossed the harbour to Kowloon and stood at the ferry concourse for a few minutes shouting slogans and collecting signatures from passers-by.

99. Around 9.15 p.m., this group, now amounting to about 20, began to move down Salisbury Road away from the Star Ferry and into Nathan Road, walking on the east side of the road and carrying three or four banners and placards. They proceeded as far north as Bute Street, which they reached about 10.10 p.m., chanting, ‘We object to the increase’ and occasionally asking members of the public to sign the petition against the increases. They then turned round and moved south again, but diverted briefly into Kimberley Road and Carnarvon Road, reaching the Star Ferry concourse at about 11.20 p.m. The crowd was growing a little all the time. The estimates of its size when it got back to the Star Ferry varied between 30 and 300. No doubt it was a matter of some difficulty to distinguish who was actually a member of the crowd and who was merely an interested onlooker, possibly following the group for a short period: probably it was about 150 strong, mainly youths. The photographs at Plates 4-7 show the demonstrators at different stages of the march and give a clear impression of the mood of the demonstration.

100. At about 11.30 p.m. they were addressed by LO Kei and Raggensack near the Star Ferry Concourse and the crowd began to grow larger and rowdier.

PART in THE DISTURBANCES

23

These addresses seem to have been more inflammatory and LO Kei, in particular, appears to have injected something of a racial touch by shouting, ‘We are all Chinese living in a Colony, should Colonialism continue to exist?’. But this attracted no particular reaction and the crowd then moved off again along Salisbury Road into Nathan Road, diverting to the right through Humphreys Avenue, Carnarvon Road, Austin Avenue and Austin Road, and then returning to Nathan Road. Some evidence suggests that, near the junction of Austin and Nathan Roads, Raggensack again addressed them, although he himself denied this. They were now about 300 strong and, just before midnight, moved off again in straggling groups northwards along Nathan Road, causing some obstruction. Half an hour later they were in the vicinity of the Shek Kip Mei Resettlement Estate. Slogans protesting against the fare increase and supporting Mrs. Elliott were being shouted and the crowd was said to be in a boisterous mood. They worked their way through the Resettlement Estate, proceeding to the junction of Tai Hang Sai and Tai Hang Tung Roads, where they were addressed briefly by three Chinese males. The number, by this time, was about 400, almost entirely youths and children. They then retraced their steps and walked down Castle Peak Road against the traffic to the Li Cheng Uk Resettlement Estate. At the junction of Wai Wai Road and Tonkin Street and again at the junction of Wai Wai Road and Wing Lung Street they stopped and squatted in the road and shouted the same slogans as before. They processed round the western end of the Resettlement Estate, continued northwards along Po On Road towards Lai Chi Kok, then entered Castle Peak Road and headed southwards. They stopped twice and squatted on Castle Peak Road, traffic being obstructed. The word ‘protest’ in Chinese was frequently heard.

101. The crowd was still about 400 strong, generally amenable to police direction and not causing much obstruction to traffic, but it was tending to get tumultuous. Mr. Sutcliffe had been alerted at 1.30 a.m. At about 2.30 a.m. near the junction of Prince Edward Road and Nathan Road, he stopped the leaders and warned them to behave in an orderly way and not to cause obstruction. The march was then resumed towards the Star Ferry which was reached about 3.30 a.m. Mr. Sutcliffe addressed the crowd again, saying that he could permit no further processions and asked them to disperse peacefully. This was greeted with cries of ‘Objection, objection’. They tried to move off towards Salisbury Road but were stopped by a police cordon. A Chinese television cameraman, in a most commendable effort to preserve public order, suggested it might be helpful if he addressed them as the demonstrators were youthful and probably not fully aware of the implications of what they were doing, but his appeals were ineffective and met with some jeers. They were allowed to pass the cordon in small groups of five but these immediately started to link up again, on the far side of the cordon, and returned to the Star Ferry concourse area. Mr. Sutcliffe approached the ring-leaders but was quickly surrounded and cut off from the other police officers.

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PART III THE DISTURBANCES

He was struck in the back by one of the demonstrators, who was arrested. This demonstrator strenuously resisted arrest. The photograph of the incident, which appears at Plate 8, and the news film we saw indicate how his struggles may have led some newspaper reporters to jump to the conclusion, which was repeated to us, that he was being pulled by the hair. Three other demonstrators were arrested at about the same time and thereafter the crowd did disperse, although it seems that these arrests caused a considerable measure of resentment and certainly formed an active subject of conversation as well as protest amongst some of the demonstrators when they got together again later that day.

102. The incidents of this evening illustrate how an orderly demonstration may attract followers merely out of curiosity and adventure seeking, and how, in the excitement of a march, these may easily be inflamed by a few speeches and slogans, until any resistance by authority to their movements and actions is greatly resented.

CHAPTER 2. THE EVENTS UNTIL DUSK ON

APRIL 6TH, 1966.

FURTHER DEMONSTRATIONS

103. Before detailing the events of this, the most significant day, it is desirable to indicate the precautions now taken by the police.

104. Police precautions. In the light of the events which had occurred, the District Commanders Kowloon and Hong Kong Island gave orders before dawn on the 6th to all divisional superintendents to form their District Emergency Force companies. Arrangements were also made for the opening up of the operations room in Police Headquarters and the combined Police and Military operations room in Kowloon Police Headquarters. Owing to shift duties, leave etc. formation into District Emergency Force takes some time, but shortly after 9 a.m. the five Kowloon companies were on standby. Company commanders were briefed on the events which had occurred and additional transport required for all companies was ordered to be available at 5 p.m. The Police Training Contingent Company was called in from the New Territories to stand by as reserve Company in Wong Tai Sin Police Station, where it arrived at 11.15 a.m.

105. When the Police Force forms into emergency structure, each division mobilizes a para-military formation of company strength for riot suppression. Each riot suppression company consists of 128 all ranks, comprising a company headquarters of five and three platoons, each of 41 men. The company is commanded by a gazetted police officer and each platoon by an inspector. Each platoon, in turn, comprises four sections consisting of one NCO and seven men. These are variously armed to reflect the different situations which may be encountered by the companv and the different degrees of force required to be used. One section is armed with riot batons and rattan shields; the second with CS tear smoke pistols; the third with

PART III THE DISTURBANCES

25

.300 calibre carbines; the fourth section’s task is to secure prisoners. In addition, a number of platoons engaged in riot suppression on this occasion carried the Federal Gas gun and used it to fire wooden projectiles only. The whole company is mobile and Company Headquarters is equipped with a radio in a land-rover for communication with each of its platoons and with District Headquarters. Each platoon is similarly self-contained with a wireless land-rover for Headquarters and two large personnel carrying vehicles for the striking force.

106. Following on these preparations, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Heath, convened a meeting at noon at Colony Police Headquarters, attended by all major police formation commanders, the Defence Secretary, the Chief of Staff, Headquarters British Forces, and the Director of Information Services. The events on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon since the beginning of SO Sau Chung’s hunger strike were reviewed in detail, as was the threat of any political or triad interest in, or exploitation of, the position. No evidence of organized political or triad organization was disclosed but it was considered that a potentially dangerous situation was discernible, which could develop into disturbances and rioting if demonstrations by teenagers and youths continued. It seemed likely that they would continue, the evening of 6th April being reckoned the main danger period immediately ahead.

107. Accordingly the Regular Force on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon was ordered to be mobilized in emergency structure by 7 p.m., while the Auxiliary Police were placed on stand-by from 8 p.m. The military brought one company of the 1st Bn. Queen’s Own Buffs to one hour’s notice and alerted the remainder of the garrison to the situation. Full Force mobilization was ordered at 10.50 p.m. including the Auxiliary Police.

108. On full mobilization, the distribution of Police manpower in Kowloon

District on the night of 6/7th April was as follows:

Uniformed Branch ... 2,655

Divided between:

Riot companies ... 947

Stations ............... 819

Mobile patrols ... 127

Foot patrols ... 383

Special & unallocated ... 328

... 347

half on duty and half off duty half on duty and half off duty half on duty and half off duty

Pol./Mil. H.Q. ... 51

109. Western Magistracy. Meanwhile at 10 a.m. on April 6th, SO Sau Chung appeared at Western Magistracy to answer a charge of obstruction on the previous afternoon. The publicity given by the press to the activities of the demonstrators added to the growing mood of public excitement and ensured that the proceedings

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would attract a crowd. In the event, the courtroom was packed and a number of SO’s supporters, including LO Kei and Miss LUI who had come over from Kowloon to attend the proceedings, could not gain admittance. The evidence suggests that the attendance of some of the demonstrators at these proceedings was not coincidental and that LO Kei had arranged during the demonstrations of the previous evening for some to attend the court proceedings and some to go to the Star Ferry to continue the protests.

110. After the conclusion of the court hearings, at which SO pleaded not guilty to the charge and was remanded on bail put up by his father, the demonstrators apparently split into several groups. SO himself, who was cheered on leaving the court, went to the Star Ferry Concourse where he addressed a crowd of passers-by. A big crowd quickly gathered and SO was warned by a policeman to leave. He got into a taxi and was driven home before more police arrived. The crowd then dispersed without incident.

111. Visit to Reform Club. Meanwhile, LO Kei and Miss LUI proceeded to visit the Reform Club, in accordance with the advice given by Mr. Bernacchi outside the Urban Council Chamber on the previous evening. They were accompanied by one Frankie YUEN, who told us he had been following the activities of the demonstrators merely with ‘curiosity’, and arrived at the Reform Club premises at 11 a.m. There they found two young workers called LEE Tak Yee and MOK Lok Wai; these, they claimed, they had never met before in spite of the fact that they had all taken part in the demonstration of the previous evening; the two groups also claimed that they came independently to make a statement to the club. At the Reform Club, these five persons made statements which were recorded by the Organizing Secretary, Mr. Patrick WONG, for Mr. Bernacchi’s information and they were told to telephone in the afternoon, when Mr. WONG would tell them at what time a meeting with Mr. Bernacchi could be arranged. The statements recounted the events of the previous day and night and gave prominence to allegations of police violence in arresting demonstrators, which the authors (Miss LUI and Frankie YUEN could not have seen if their own evidence as to their movements on that night is to be believed. It seems from the statements given and from their own evidence that the aim of this visit was to obtain the general support and the use of the facilities of the Reform Club, in order to elicit support from the press and radio and from other organizations and to attract the personal attention and interest of public figures such as Mr. Bernacchi, by seeking his advice—although it is problematical whether they ever intended to follow it—on how to keep further demonstrations within the law. It seems there was already every intention at this stage to proceed with further action.

112. Whilst at the Reform Club premises, LO Kei wrote out, in the form of a petition which he later presented at Government House, a copy of the statement which he had made to Mr. WONG.

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27

113. Second visit to Government House. On leaving the Reform Club, this group walked to Government House and presented the petition which stated:

‘(1) I do against fare increase,

(A) Chain effects—other companies would have to follow too.

(B) Depreciation of H.K. currency.

(C) Family burden increase.

(2) Demand police apology for arresting Mr. SO Sau Chung and the other people who support the demonstration.

(a) Demand release of all concerned.

The representative of: Mr. Tiger-in-field LO Kei.’

114. An impromptu conference with press reporters was held outside the gates of Government House at 12.30 p.m. and the group then went in a reporter’s car to the Star Ferry and crossed to Kowloon. According to their evidence, Miss LUI then returned home, whilst LO, LEE and MOK went to South Kowloon Court to see what had happened in the proceedings against the persons arrested during the demonstration.

115. South Kowloon Court. Meanwhile, a third group of demonstrators who had met LO Kei at the Western Magistracy, crossed the harbour at LO Kei’s suggestion to South Kowloon Court to find out -the result of proceedings against the demonstrators who had been arrested in connection with the assault on Mr. Sutcliffe outside Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station in the early hours of that morning. This group learned that the cases would be heard at 12.30 p.m. and, on finding that the demonstrators concerned were not known to them, and that Raggensack was not one of them, they returned to Hong Kong where a number of them loitered in the vicinity of the Star Ferry, occasionally receiving messages from other groups until the meeting in Mr. Bernacchi’s chambers at 5.30 p.m.

116. LO Kei, LEE Tak Yee and MOK Lok Wai arrived at the Magistracy after the departure of this group and, on learning that the cases had been heard, they left without incident. In his evidence LO Kei said that they had gone to inquire about Raggensack’s case and that MOK learned of Raggensack’s release from a police sergeant at the court. In a later version, he said that he had learned of Raggensack’s arrest from Mr. WONG and other sources. On this as on other points we found LO Kei very unreliable; Raggensack had not been arrested at this time.

117. After leaving the Court, LO Kei telephoned to Mr. WONG and was informed that Mr. Bernacchi would see him at 5.30 that evening. He passed this message on to LEE and MOK and they parted, apparently with an agreement to meet again at the Star Ferry at 4.30 p.m.

118. Star Ferry Concourse—Kowloon. At about 3 p.m. a young man, who had been active in the demonstrations on the previous day, appeared at the Kowloon Star Ferry with a placard opposing the proposed ferry fare increase and

28

PART III THE DISTURBANCES

all price increases, and appealing for the release of the arrested demonstrators. A crowd soon gathered, causing an obstruction, and he was warned by the police to leave. Following the example of SO Sau Chung, the young man appealed to the crowd, was arrested and taken away. Details of a subsequent interview with him are shown at paragraph 390.

119. This arrest provoked a similar reaction in some of the eye-witnesses to that of SO Sau Chung on the previous day. AU YEUNG spoke of his anger at the arrest, which he claimed to have been within the five minutes warning period, and he and three or four young men crossed on the ferry to Hong Kong with the aim of staging a silent protest on the spot where SO had been standing before. The crowd of onlookers and supporters grew and, on the approach of the Police, the demonstrators took evasive action.

120. Demonstration in Hong Kong Island. During the day and early evening a number of small groups of youths with banners were seen in Central, Bayview and Eastern divisions. The only arrests made were of two youths in Eastern district at 11 p.m. and no disturbances occurred on Hong Kong Island. One group which attracted some attention subsequently in connection with the disturbances that broke out later in Kowloon is that depicted in Plate 9. This group of four youths with two banners told reporters that they had walked from North Point to the Star Ferry where they had crossed to Kowloon only to be turned back by the Police. Their movement will be traced in greater detail at a later stage, but it is of some significance to note that whereas a march which was undertaken through the Central District of Hong Kong attracted very few supporters, one subsequently hold in Kowloon had much more success.

121. Interview with Mr. Bernacchi. Arising from the statements given to Mr. Patrick WONG by the five demonstrators who had called at the Reform Club in the morning, a meeting was arranged for 5.30 that afternoon in Mr. Bernacchi’s chambers. News of this meeting travelled fast during that afternoon amongst those connected with the earlier protests and other demonstrators and bystanders in the vicinity of the Star Ferry Concourse, Hong Kong; eventually, the meeting was attended by 17 or 18 persons, much to Mr. Bernacchi’s surprise.

122. There is some uncertainty as to how all the participants were notified of the meeting apart from those who heard from Mr. WONG by telephone—LO Kei, LEE Tak Yee and MOK Lok Wai—and Raggensack and Frankie YUEN, who both telephoned independently. The majority appear to have been contacted at the Star Ferry Concourse while participating in or watching the silent protest organized by AU YEUNG after the arrest of the demonstrator at Tsim Sha Tsui. The fact that messages were sent to the homes of SO Sau Chung and Miss LUI indicates some degree of planning at this stage behind the apparently coincidental gatherings.

$

Plate 1 The ’Hunger Striker’, SO Sau Chung, at the Star Ferry Concourse, (para. 87)











1 »n. 4



Lt






THE ‘HUNGER STRIKER’ AND DEMONSTRATIONS

Plate 2 Demonstrators at the Star Ferry Concourse, collecting signatures and displaying banners, (para. 87).










THE ‘HUNGER STRIKER’ AND DEMONSTRATIONS

Plate

Demonstration march

Nathan

Road. Raggensack

a group of demonstrators

THE DEMONSTRATION MARCH

THE DEMONSTRATION MARCH

Plate

Demonstration passes King Wah Restaurant, Nathan

Road, Mong Kok

Plate 3 Demonstrators being interviewed by the Press outside Government House after SO’s arrest, (para. 93).

■ • • • • • • • •

>

Plate 4 Demonstration before the march through Kowloon on April 5th. (para. 99)

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CHAR

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ii&





THE DEMONSTRATION MARCH

Plate 7 Demonstrators sitting down at Star Ferry Concourse, Kowloon, at the end of the march, (para. 101).

THE DEMONSTRATIONS

Plate 8 A demonstrator being arrested after the assault on Mr. Sutcliffe at about 4 a.m. on April 6th. (para. 101).







DEMONSTRATIONS

leading

procession

Plate 10 children Nathan

Plate 9 A group of demonstrators returning to Hong Kong Island at

Star Ferry after the incident in Jordan Road, (paras. 120 and 134).

Road from the Star Ferry Concourse, (para. 133).

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Plate 11 The arrest of HOR Wan Wah

in Nathan Road at about 9.50 p.m

on

THE

DEMONSTRATIONS

Demonstrators in Nathan

Plate 12

1

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VA-

SvS

April 6th. (para. 131)

Road on 6th April with LO Kei

(para. 152)











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THE TRANSITION TO VIOLENCE 6/7th APRIL

eis

Plate 13 Crowd in Nathan Road, near Waterloo Road, at about 10 p.m on 6th April, (para. 138).

Plate 14 Missiles being thrown at passing traffic on Nathan Road at approximately 10.10 p.m. (para. 138).












Nathan

THE RIOTS APRIL

6/7th

pagoda

Plate 19 Fires burning ii Road, Mong Kok

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Hing Department

THE RIOTS APRIL 6/7th

Nathan Road. (para. 164)

• •

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Plate 22 Vehicles overturned at the junction of Argyle Street and

The aftermath of the looting and arson at Shui Store in Shaw’s Building, Mong Kok. (para.

Ip

' • ................................' ' ’ ‘







THE RIOTS APRIL 7/8th

Shantung Street, at about 11 p.m. (para

188)

Plate 23 Obstructions being placed in Nathan Road, Mong Kok at about 10 p.m. on April 7th. (para. 188).

Plate 24 Rioting in Nathan Road, near

Wjfc

w.



PART III THE DISTURBANCES

29

123. Of the 17/18 persons present, 14 were under the age of 25 and their occupations were reported as students, workers and unemployed. LO Kei was not present, but his absence seems to have excited no comment from the others which, in view of the prominent part he had played in earlier events, suggests that they did not expect him to attend.

124. Accounts of what took place at the interview vary very considerably, probably because, owing to the absence of the main instigator LO Kei, no one was very sure—apparently not even Mr. Bernacchi—what the real object of the meeting was. It would appear that after the slight initial confusion due to the seating requirements of the unexpected numbers had been overcome, Mr. Bernacchi opened the meeting by referring to the five written statements he had been given, but he did not apparently notice that the writer of one of them was not present. First Raggensack spoke for the demonstrators, giving an account of the previous night’s demonstration and in it he expressed the opinion that the majority of the participants that evening had come upon the demonstration purely fortuitously and had joined in for the fun of it. After this, SO Sau Chung did a lot of talking and in a rather rambling speech, explained that his demonstration was directed not only at the ferry fares but at the Hong Kong Government, which he thought was out of date. He also referred to Singapore gaining her independence.

125. It would appear that by this time Mr. Bernacchi had sized up the situation, for a number of witnesses stated that he then tried to turn the discussion from constitutional reform and Singapore’s independence back to the matter of the Star Ferry fares and that he advised -the demonstrators with regard to the law in respect of processions and demonstrations and emphasized the need for Police permission to hold demonstrations. The evidence of LEE Tak Yee and Miss LUI indicates that he advised against further demonstrations and proposed an alternative method of ventilating public feeling in a lawful manner. His proposal was that the Reform Club should sponsor a public meeting in the Government Stadium and, after some discussion, it was agreed that Police permission should be sought for a public meeting on 23rd April at which the ferry fare issue would be discussed. An application was accordingly made on 7th April. This application was refused on 9th April after rioting had broken out on two nights in Kowloon.

126. The participants in the meeting left their names and some their addresses so that they could be contacted to assist in the public meeting by distributing hand bills. The evidence given to us indicates that no mention was made of holding further street demonstrations immediately and that some of the young people— especially the fringe members—seemed satisfied with the decision to postpone further activity until the public meeting on 23rd April. Even AU YEUNG, whose evidence was generally hostile to Mr. Bernacchi in that he denied hearing anything said about meetings without police permission being illegal or any advice

30

PART III THE DISTURBANCES

given against further demonstrations, summed up the feeling of the young people as follows: ‘When we first arrived at Mr. Bernacchi’s office, we felt a little excited because, at the beginning, we did not know what would be the outcome of the meeting, but after it had been decided that a mass rally would be held in order to bring about a solution to the rioting problems, we all felt more relaxed’. Nevertheless, three of those attending the meeting were subsequently convicted for riot offences committed in Kowloon a few hours after the meeting and one other apparently admitted taking part in a riotous assembly but was not charged owing to lack of evidence.

127. Visit to Rediffusion. At the conclusion of the meeting with Mr. Bernacchi and after a brief encounter with Mrs. Elliott, who arrived as the meeting broke up, the group, on the suggestion of SO and Raggensack, walked up Garden Road and along Kennedy Road to Wan Chai. Apparently all were in high spirits as they made their way to Rediffusion House to see television news films of the previous night’s demonstrations. The films they saw and the newspaper photographs were admitted by some e.g. LEE Tak Yee, to have had an exciting effect on them others e.g. AU YEUNG and Miss LUI, said they were shocked. In any event, the group watched the 9 p.m. news films and at about 9.30 p.m. dispersed in small groups.

128. Meanwhile, LO Kei, a fuller account of whose movements is given in Part V Chapter 2, had failed to attend the meeting with Mr. Bernacchi, in spite of the prominent part he had played in the earlier discussions outside the Urban Council Chamber and at the Reform Club; but he had not been idle. After leaving the South Kowloon Court, he had, according to his evidence, spent some time in Shanghai Street reading newspaper accounts of the demonstrations on the previous night and then had gone to Commercial Radio to record a broadcast, calling for support for the further demonstrations, which now began to develop.

CHAPTER 3.

THE EVENTS OF THE NIGHT OF APRIL 6/7TH.

THE FIRST NIGHT OF RIOTING

129. Recurrence of Demonstrations. Although, as the Commissioner of

Police has told us, the security authorities had not had a great deal more than

intuition to go upon when they decided in the day to mobilize their resources lest disorders should break out in the evening, their anxiety proved to be only

too well founded shortly after darkness set in. At an early stage two groups, which may indeed have had the same nucleus, were prominent, crossing from the Island

to Kowloon by the Jordan Road and Shum Shui Po ferries. Other groups,

apparently originating in Kowloon, were also active in the Nathan Road area.

130. Incident in Jordan Road. The first group, consisting of four youths with a banner protesting against the ferry increases reached Jordan Road at about 7.30

PART III THE DISTURBANCES

31

p.m. and started to process along the road in an easterly direction, where they were met by Mr. Fergus, Superintendent of Police in charge of Yau Ma Tei. He

had been warned of their coming and had a platoon of his company with him.

At this time, they were followed by no more than 30 or 40 people although the

crowd was growing. Mr. Fergus asked if they had a permit, and, receiving a

negative reply, said that he could not allow them to continue in procession but that they could stand at the side of the road, provided they caused no obstruction.

Within a short time there was a crowd about them of over 500 people. Mr. Fergus told the four leaders that they could not continue to cause an obstruction of this

nature. He found them polite and they readily accepted an offer from him to take them in a land-rover to the Star Ferry where they could return to Hong Kong. It seems, however, that this action gave the impression to some in the surrounding crowd that they were being arrested. One man, indeed, came up and inquired if this was so. Mr. Fergus said ‘No’ but went on to tell us he had reason to believe

that this man nevertheless took part in subsequent developments outside Yau Ma Tei Police Station. Mr. Fergus said that, on his way back to the Yau Ma Tei Police Station, he came up Nathan Road and found it, he thought, normal in atmosphere, but very crowded, although the crowds had not yet reached the peak associated with cinema time. He got back to Yau Ma Tei Police Station about 8.40 p.m. and five minutes later, a crowd appeared in Public Square Street moving westwards towards the Station. He estimated it to be about 300 strong and there was, he said, a lot of shouting: a sort of roar such as one would get at a football match. The crowd, consisting mainly of young boys and young men between 15 and 25 years of age, had no banners but it was menacing, with its angry roar, so Mr. Fergus initiated the precautions known as ‘attack on station’ and took his company outside and ordered a baton charge on the crowd. This was effective, the crowd breaking up and scattering into side streets before the Police actually made contact with it. The area was cleared in about 17 minutes. Other evidence indicated

that this crowd had formed because, after being incited to believe that the four young men had been arrested unlawfully, it had been urged to march on the station and demand their release.

131. Incident in Nathan Road. This was really the first incident of the evening with overtones of violence but more trouble was brewing. At 9.42 p.m. Mr. Fergus took his whole company out on patrol, and when moving down Nathan Road, opposite Princess Theatre, he found a crowd of about 500 persons, very similar in age to the one that had appeared in Public Square Street, but they were led by a youngster in front carrying a banner (the origin of this group is described in para. 133 below). Mr. Fergus wheeled across the road to come up beside this crowd and he said there was a good deal of jeering from it and an inevitable traffic jam occurred. He asked the banner bearer if he had a permit for the procession and the boy immediately began yelling ‘They are persecuting us’. The area was very crowded at the time, as the cinema crowds were coming out,

32

PART III THE DISTURBANCES

and Mr. Fergus, fearing a breach of the peace, arrested the young man but he noted no further development at that particular juncture. A photograph of this arrest is at Plate 11. He then moved on towards the Star Ferry, following the receipt of a report from Headquarters about a crowd gathering there, but finding none, he returned up Nathan Road. Reports, in the meantime, had been coming in of a crowd further north and, at the junction of Nathan Road and Public Square Street, he found a crowd of about 1,000 persons moving north, the same sort of composition, mainly young men and youths with a few women and older men. This appears to have been a fresh concentration of the crowd that had been following the arrested youngster, and it was this crowd or part of it which, at some stage, may have been carrying the placard ‘Long live the Nationalist Government of China’ found abandoned on the road near the Princess Theatre—the only suggestion throughout the whole of our proceedings of any external political motive in the disturbances. As the police came up, stones and bamboo poles were thrown. Mr. Fergus took his men past the crowd; they then alighted and faced about; warnings to disperse were given by loud hailer and by banner but these were ignored. A baton charge was ordered but a second charge was necessary before the crowd dispersed.

132. Apart from the menace of the crowd advancing on the Yau Ma Tei Police Station at an earlier stage, this was the first incident retailed to us where the crowd attempted to assault the police, and as the period and area seem to have been critical in the transition to violence, we propose to recount events here as seen through a number of different eyes. In addition to testimony from the commanders of the police companies who were engaged in dealing with the crowds we have evidence from press photographers and reporters as well as from some demonstrators and rioters and a very useful written statement contained in a report of the Police Juvenile Liaison Officer which was made available to us.

133. Situation in Nathan Road prior to outbreak of rioting. The J.L.O. and his officers, who are engaged in administering what is known as the ‘Liverpool’ system and thus keep a particularly close contact with juveniles and young persons, were spread out before 8.00 p.m. in the area of Nathan Road between Tsim Sha Tsui and Sham Shui Po. His report tells how he observed, from a distance, a procession of youths, who had been congregating at the Star Ferry, Kowloon; shortly after 8.00 p.m. they moved off in the direction of Nathan Road. They were in a happy and playful mood, apparently enjoying the limelight and posing, without objection, for any newspaper photographer who was interested: placards and notices were being hurriedly written as the procession moved northwards up Nathan Road. Very few of those involved were over the age of 21 and the youngest were in the region of nine or ten years old. A photograph of some of this group is at Plate 10. Pedestrians of all types and ages were seen to shout encouragement. The procession gradually increased in numbers and then split into several smaller processions which doubled back on the route several times. There

PART III THE DISTURBANCES

33

were ringleaders and cheer leaders but no other signs of organization. At about 9.15 p.m. when several processions had joined together and were moving north up Nathan Road, they were joined by youths leaving the Princess Theatre after the 7.30 p.m. show, and the whole west side of Nathan Road became blocked. The J.L.O. saw a police riot company, which must have been the Yau Ma Tei company, approach from the north and move into the crowd, arresting at least one youngster who had been carrying placards and acting in a disorderly way. The procession dispersed and the police company left the area, but a large crowd stood around watching and when the police left, the cheer leaders and placardbearing youths reformed their procession and headed north. Near Public Square Street the J.L.O. saw the Yaumati company again appear and disperse the crowd after stone-throwing by youths. But, he said, at this time the crowd was in a happy and playful frame of mind, laughing and joking and the police were jeered and stoned all ‘in good fun’. No organization was observed; when one boy throw a stone, several others joined in for the ‘sport’. The large crowd on Public Square Street then split into two main processions, one heading north, and the other south. They did not appear, he said, to have any particular purpose at that juncture 1 other than to shout slogans and to attract attention. The one heading south was kept under observation by the J.L.O., who states that he saw a Government Information Services Officer handing out leaflets about the Star Ferry increase, in which members of the procession appeared to take an interest and, as a result, split up. The procession which had moved north seems, however, to have played its part in creating a more menacing situation in Nathan Road, north of Public Square Street, where the Yau Ma Tei company had been in contact with it.

134. Incident at Sham Shui Po ferry. Before returning to that area, however, we will follow the second group of young men who had crossed from Hong Kong to demonstrate in Kowloon as mentioned in paragraph 129, in so far as we have been able to trace them. This was made possible mainly through the evidence of a newspaper reporter who said he first came in contact with these young men about 8.15 p.m. at the Kowloon Star Ferry concourse where they were carrying banners opposing the ferry fare increase. He said a police superintendent told them it was illegal to stage a demonstration in Kowloon and advised them to return to the Island. This advice they apparently accepted and subsequently returned to the Hong Kong side. The reporter speaks of eight young men at this time but these may well have included the four who were demonstrating a little earlier at Jordan Road and had been brought to the Star Ferry in the police land-rover. A photograph of them on the return journey to the island appears at Plate 9. As already recounted in paragraph 120, the reporter learned from them that earlier in the evening they had raised their banners near the Sing Pao Building in North Point, whence they walked to Wanchai and along Hennessy Road to the Star Ferry Pier, intending to hold a demonstration but, having been told they could not, crossed to Kowloon. The reporter followed them on their return to Hong

34

PART III THE DISTURBANCES

Kong and said that they stood for a while in the car park near the Government Publications bookstall at the Star Ferry, then lined up and marched along the waterfront, then via Wyndham Street to Upper Albert Road returning by Pottinger Street to Des Voeux Central, along the tram tracks and to the waterfront near the Sham Shui Po Ferry. There, they crossed again to Kowloon, where they were met by police who told them they could stage no demonstration. The youths replied that they merely intended to go home, so they were allowed to go through singly and in twos, but they joined up again at the junction of Peiho Street and Cheung Sha Wan Road and then turned down Lai Chi Kok Road to Nathan Road.

135. Mr. McNutt, the Divisional Superintendent Sham Shui Po, told us how he had proceeded to the Sham Shui Po Ferry with one of his platoons on instructions from Headquarters and met a group of youths disembarking from the ferry shortly after 9 p.m. He spoke to a youth in a singlet with characters written on it opposing the ferry fare increase and was told that he lived on Hong Kong side and had come over to Kowloon to demonstrate. Mr. McNutt advised him to return to Hong Kong and he agreed to do so returning to the ferry pier, accompanied by five or six youths.

136. This conversation quickly attracted the attention of about 100 by-standers, amongst whom Mr. McNutt noticed two youths carrying furled banners. On inquiry, they said that they had been demonstrating in Hong Kong and were now returning to their homes in Kowloon. After being warned not to hold demonstrations and being allowed to proceed, they walked up Peiho Street towards Lai Chi Kok Road, followed by some of the crowd and were lost to view.

137. The newspaper reporter followed them and told us that as they went along, they were joined by other young people. They were not apparently carrying banners at this time, but had slogans written on their singlets. They were very reticent about what had brought them together and would give no information on this to the reporter. They moved south along Nathan Road, now about 300 strong, and near the Bank of the Netherlands, close to the junction of Gascoigne Road, they met another large group coming up from the south. The confluence of these groups seems to have given rise to much excitment. The reporter speaks of a lot of noise, yelling and so on. He speaks of police being there, having apparently just arrived as he saw them getting out of their trucks. But, before taking up the narrative from their point of view, let us look at the scene in this area as seen by a press photographer and another reporter. I

138. Situation in Nathan Road, Yau Ma Tei between 10 and 11 p.m. We had some very cogent evidence from a press photographer, who said that there was no hostility from the crowd towards photographers when he took photographs at about ten o’clock, although hostility developed later. He took the photographs shown as Plates 13, 14, 15 and 17 and also identified for us Plate 16, although that was taken by another photographer. Of these photographs, the first three were taken in Nathan Road, just south of Waterloo Road, near the Astor cinema

PART III THE DISTURBANCES

35

and the fourth (Plate 17) in the side street off Nathan Road by the Yau Ma Tei Government School. In time, he placed the first of the three photographs (Plate 13) at about 10 o’clock; Plate 14 at about 10.10 p.m.; Plate 15 at about 10.20 p.m. and Plate 17 at about 10.40 p.m.; though we are inclined to think the intervals may have been somewhat shorter. He said the first of these pictures was taken before the arrival of the police; the second was taken before the arrival of the police on foot, although there were police vans passing by, which did not stop as they were being stoned, but the last was taken after the crowd had been dispersed into the side streets by the police. He was emphatic that before taking the first picture, the crowd had been stoning cars and buses but had stopped momentarily, as there were no cars at that moment to chase. He said sticks and stones were thrown at the bus in Plate 14 and several of its windows were smashed. He said some of the crowd were advising people not to throw stones but others were encouraging the stoning. He confirmed that the debris at the bottom of the picture was shattered glass. As for the car shown in Plate 16 which, under a magnifying glass, appears also to be just discernible in Plate 13, he said, he heard people shouting that a Government car was coming—some were suggesting overturning the car, others suggested wrecking it but some press reporters around informed the crowd that the vehicle in fact belonged to ‘the newspapers circle’, the crowd hestitated and the driver, seeing an opportunity, made off.

139. This brings us back to the reporter who had accompanied the group of demonstrators that came down from Sham Shui Po. He told us that shortly after this group arrived, he saw the same incident; the car being surrounded and somebody saying, ‘this car with an 8 number is a Government car. Let’s burn it or wreck it’. He said the youth shown in Plate 16 was urging the crowd to bum the car, but he told the crowd that the car was for newspapers only. When Mr. Willis, the Acting Deputy Director of Information Services, in the car, tried to get out, someone in the crowd sought to interfere with him, but this reporter again intervened, and the driver was able to restart his car and get away.

140. This same reporter told us of a photographer, who had taken a flashlight picture somewhat later, about 11 p.m., being surrounded by a crowd of 300 or so, demanding that he hand over his film. When they were told that he was a reporter for a certain newspaper, they desisted, saying the paper could speak for them to the Government. This temporary hostility was in contrast to the attitude shown earlier in the evening towards reporters and photographers, when those concerned seemed very anxious to get as much publicity as they could.

141. It seems that turmoil was now getting fairly general in the area with rioters throwing stones at the police and at vehicles and smashing buses with bamboo poles; flower pots and other missiles were coming from the higher buildings. But before returning to the police account of these events, let us take up one more report from a journalist.

36

PART III THE DISTURBANCES

142. Another reporter spoke of crossing to Kowloon by the Star Ferry at about 9.45 to 10.00 p.m. and learning from a police inspector in Kowloon that there had been some serious trouble at the junction of Nathan Road and Waterloo Road, where the police had been stoned. He took a taxi but the driver refused to go more than a little distance past Jordan Road, so he alighted there and walked towards Gascoigne Road, where he found a very large crowd, some thousands strong. He described it as a very noisy crowd, making a very ugly sound. Some members of the crowd were standing still, and others were slowly moving up and down the street; they were fairly representative of the community age groups. Again, although they were mainly on the pavements, some were scattered over the street itself. He saw about 100 policemen in riot squad formation. There was he said, some distance between the crowd and the police and there was an air of ‘anticipation’ about. The police then moved towards the crowd, first of all up Gascoigne Road, across the triangle of open space at the junction of Gascoigne Road and Nathan Road. Tear smoke was fired, but the wind was unfavourable and tended to blow it back towards the police. Prior to the firing, missiles had been coming in the direction of the police particularly, he said, from the upper storeys of tall buildings. After the tear smoke was fired, the crowd started to throw more bricks and bottles. Asked to indicate what started the missile throwing, he said he thought it began when a crowd of about 300 to 500 people arrived at the Astor Theatre about 10.30 p.m. It had marched up Nathan Road carrying banners and ‘small street signs’. Some were shouting and shaking their fists at the police and this seemed definitely to raise the temperature. Earlier on when going up Nathan Road in the taxi, he had passed two small groups of about 10 to 15 young people, fairly orderly and carrying banners at the time. He got the impression that those two groups, which he had passed near the President Hotel and Whitfield Barracks respectively, had amalgamated and swollen to the size of the crowd that arrived at the Astor Theatre at about 10.30 p.m. When he had first seen the two groups, they were behaving in an orderly fashion, but the crowd that arrived at the Astor cinema was behaving very differently. Prior to that, there had been the occasional brick coming from construction sites and bottles from apartments but nothing concentrated. Anticipating a little, he told us how, eventually, the police dispersed this crowd with tear smoke after a number of attempts and moved south pushing the crowd back. He said that when they did so, the crowd dispersed into the side streets and, as the police were unable to follow them, the groups would form up again in the lanes and alleys and come out somewhere else on Nathan Road. There was very little direct physical contact between the crowds and the police.

143. From all this it seems tolerably clear that after the contact with the Yau Ma Tei company at Public Square Street, when the crowd stoned the police and two baton charges were made, stone throwing and the smashing of buses etc.

PART III THE DISTURBANCES

37

developed further north near Waterloo Road and Gascoigne Road before the police appeared there in any numbers apart from the isolated passing police car.

144. Police action to suppress disturbances—South of Waterloo Road. Measures to meet this situation were initiated at Kowloon Police Headquarters shortly after 10 p.m. Mr. Rose, Chief Superintendent of Police, second-in-com -mand of the Kowloon District and the Field Commander of the District Emergency Force at the time of its formation, told us that, about 10.15 p.m. Mr. Sutcliffe, having received reports about the Yau Ma Tei company being stoned in Public Square Street, instructed Mr. Rose to take his command vehicle together with two inspectors, a staff-sergeant and a corporal to investigate. Having left Kowloon Police Headquarters at the junction of Nathan Road and Prince Edward Road, Mr. Rose moved southwards along Nathan Road and found the traffic impeded, though not stationary: moving very slowly in both directions. After crossing the Nathan Road/Waterloo Road junction he saw ‘pockets of crowds’ on the western side of Nathan Road; he put them at about 800 to 1,000 strong and as the vehicle crossed the lights at Waterloo Road, it was pelted with stones and its windows were broken but, with difficulty, it reached Public Square Street. Other reports show that a police mobile patrol car was also under attack in this area at the time and Mr. Rose saw buses being stoned. He turned his vehicle at the junction with Public Square Street, and reported back to Headquarters, asking for traffic diversions to be made and requesting that two of the emergency companies be sent to him so as to take action against the crowds.

145. As a result, Headquarter and Yau Ma Tei companies were ordered to go to his assistance and the Police Training Contingent company was directed to approach Nathan Road via Gascoigne Road, so that three companies began converging on this area. At a later stage the Marine and the Kowloon City companies were brought in from Tsim Sha Tsui via Con ton Road and Public Square Street. Meanwhile, moving north, Mr. Rose came to Man Ming Lane where crowds were throwing stones at buses and he was again stoned between Man Ming Lane and Wing Sing Lane, stoning which not only smashed all the remaining windows in his vehicle but also destroyed the public address system on the roof. He was expecting the Headquarter company to approach from the north at this time and, seeing two police vehicles and a land-rover coming over Waterloo Road, he stopped them, de-bussed their occupants, who came from No. 3 Platoon of Headquarter company, formed them up and directed them to fire tear smoke to disperse the crowds, which were mainly teenagers round the ages of 18 to 20, but very hostile, according to Mr. Rose, shouting and cursing. The tear smoke had the effect of dispersing the crowds and part of the platoon moved north so as to take over the junction of Nathan Road and Waterloo Road but, for this purpose, it was necessary not only to use tear smoke but also to put in a baton charge. The crowd melted away before the charge but tended to re-form as soon as the police had passed. The position now was that he had part of the platoon holding the junction


38 PART III THE DISTURBANCES

of Wing Sing Lane and Nathan Road and the other part the Waterloo Road junction. By getting hold of one or two drivers, who were standing on the pavement near their buses, he was able to get some of the buses which had been abandoned to move out of the area along Waterloo Road.

146. Meanwhile, Mr. Dunning, who had been the first to arrive with his Headquarter company in response to Mr. Rose’s earlier request for assistance, had been having a difficult time. At about 10.30 p.m. he moved out from the Kowloon Headquarters in his command vehicle, followed by platoons Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in lorries. He found the south-bound traffic in Nathan Road stationary by now and he had to weave around it to move south. As he moved past Waterloo Road, the vehicles were stoned and when he got near to the junction of Nathan and Gascoigne Roads, his vehicle was moving so slowly and the crowd was so dense that they were able to break windows in the vehicles with stones held in their hands. Nathan Road, at this point, was virtually blocked solid by a mob, stationary buses and a few cars. He debussed his company which, at this time, consisted only of Nos. 1 and 2 platoons, as No. 3 platoon had been stopped further north by Mr. Rose. As the other platoons alighted, they were bombarded by bricks, stones and rubbish and as there was not sufficient room to form up, Mr. Dunning directed officers individually to fire tear smoke so as to make the crowd withdraw, which they eventually did, thus enabling him to draw up his two platoons, facing in opposite directions north and south. He spent the next twenty minutes clearing the area of Public Square Street, Gascoigne Road and Nathan Road by the use of tear smoke. Although the members of the crowd continued throwing stones from side streets, he was able to get some of the stationary traffic to turn and go along Gascoigne Road but met with difficulties because a number of the buses had been abandoned by their drivers.

147. Meanwhile the Yau Ma Tei company which had returned to its station after dispersing the crowd near the Public Square Street/Nathan Road junction now came back into the picture, having been ordered at 10.43 p.m. to return to Nathan Road to assist Headquarter company. It moved out to the junction of Nathan Road and Public Square Street taking over the junction and then moved north behind the platoon of the Headquarter company, taking over road junctions as it went and spreading up as far as Argyle Street. When Mr. Shave with the Police Training Contingent company arrived at the junction of Gascoigne and Nathan Roads just before 11 p.m., the action of the Headquarter and Yau Ma Tei companies in Nathan Road had had some effect and Nathan Road itself was reasonably clear, although there were crowds to the south of the Gascoigne Road junction and stones were coming from the side streets on the west of Nathan Road.

148. Mr. Shave said he found men from Headquarter company blocking side streets on the western side of Nathan Road and he deployed the first platoon of his own company into Wing Sing Lane on the western side of Nathan Road, where

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39

they quickly came under attack with stones from the crowd in the street and from roofs and buildings on both sides. A baton charge was necessary; thereupon the street crowds quickly withdrew into buildings, playing virtually a game of hide and seek with the platoon. No. 2 platoon was deployed on the eastern section of Nathan Road, No. 3 was sent southwards along Nathan Road to the junction of Gascoigne Road, where they were faced by a crowd which Mr. Shave described as being something between sullen and angry, a crowd which gradually became noisier and more violent. He had some anxieties as to the ability of a single platoon to deal with it and told his second platoon to go south and support the third. By this time, members of the crowd were throwing stones at buses, which were still jamming the northbound carriageway. They had, at first, ignored the presence of the third platoon but as the second platoon approached, the police came under heavy stoning. Warnings to disperse were given and ignored and tear smoke was used, but the crowd quickly re-formed and returned to their original positions. This situation continued for about 45 minutes, when the area gradually became quieter. Mr. Shave then made contact with Mr. Rose to the north and it was agreed that his company should remain in the Gascoigne Road area to provide a firm base while other companies went north and south along Nathan Road. On his way back to the Gascoigne Road junction after his meeting with Mr. Rose, Mr. Shave found that the police vehicles of his own and other companies parked near Man Ming Lane were being heavily attacked with stones from the side streets off Nathan Road. A European officer had been injured in the face whilst he and another officer and two constables were protecting the vehicles by firing baton shells down Man Ming Lane to keep the crowd at bay. Apart from this, the area round the junction was quieter although there were groups of people in various doorways on both sides of the street and larger groups of about 20 or 30 coming out of various side streets; turning back when faced by the police.

149. So far we have been looking at the picture south of the junction between Waterloo Road and Nathan Road although the trouble had been spreading slowly northwards. Mr. Rose had, at about 11.15 p.m., instructed the Sham Shui Po company to move south to the Waterloo Road junction but they ran into difficulties. Before dealing with these, however, it is probably easier to keep the general picture in mind if we complete our survey of what happened south of Waterloo Road where, in addition to the Headquarters, the Yau Ma Tei and the Police Training Contingent companies, the Marine company and the Kowloon City company were also coming into the picture. The former, which was standing by at Marine Police Headquarters, had been called out at about 11 p.m. and directed to go to the Yau Ma Tei Police Station, which they reached about 11.15 p.m. They were then told to go to the junction of Nathan Road and Waterloo Road. Mr. Ringer proceeded along Public Square Street and at its junction with Reclamation Street found a large crowd of several hundred persons but it was, he said, a happy sort of crowd, reasonably good humoured with no banners. When asked to disperse,

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some moved away although a number still remained, but this caused him no particular anxiety and he moved on with the Marine company to the junction of Nathan Road and Waterloo Road to report to Mr. Rose.

150. Meanwhile at 11.30 p.m. the Kowloon City Company had been ordered to move from Kowloon City Police Station to deal with a reported crowd at Tsim Sha Tsui but found no one there other than ordinary citizens going about their business, although the area was somewhat congested because buses were not leaving for the Nathan Road area. Then, receiving radio instructions to go to the assistance of the other companies Mr. Todd moved his company up Canton Road to Public Square Street near the Yau Ma Tei Police Station where he found crowds milling about in the roads, the majority of them 25 years or younger. When they saw this unit arriving, they split up into small groups and started to disperse northwards up Temple Street. He followed them up Temple Street and at the junction of Man Ming Lane the crowd started to throw stones, bottles, pieces of wood, contractor’s lamps, and anything they could get their hands on at the police vehicles. The company alighted and started to engage these crowds. Tear smoke was fired and the crowd retreated westwards towards Shanghai Street and Canton Road as well as northwards. Mr. Todd then took his company out into Nathan Road arriving there shortly after midnight when he saw a large crowd south of Gascoigne Road and missiles being thrown at another police unit already there.

151. Approaching midnight, the position in the area of Nathan Road between Waterloo Road and Gascoigne Road presented many aspects of a general melee, although tear smoke and baton charges had to a great extent dispersed the rioters off Nathan Road mainly into the side streets on the west side, where they gathered into smaller groups and continued to throw missiles at the police. There were reports of trouble to the north and the south and many street fires burning but the police formations were intact, firmly under the control of their commanders and confident in their capacity to deal with any opposition that did not disperse and melt away in front of them. Mr. Rose had immediately available in the Public Square Street/Gascoigne Road/Nathan Road area the Headquarter company, the Police Training Contingent company, the Yau Ma Tei company as well as the two companies which had come up from the south, the Marine company and the Kowloon City company, whilst two platoons of the Sham Shui Po company were also coming down from the north by a route west of Nathan Road which was itself blocked. The Police Training Contingent company was held in the Gascoigne Road junction area, whilst the Headquarter company was directed to sweep down Nathan Road to the south. The Yau Ma Tei company was also held in the area between Waterloo Road and Tak Cheong Street. When the Kowloon City company reached Nathan Road, it was directed also to move south but by a different route and to come out onto Nathan Road by Austin Road and then to move northward, the idea being to provide a pincer movement with the Headquarter company

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41

which was directed to move south down Nathan Road. On arrival, the Marine company was directed to move north to deal with disorders which were developing in that area.

152. Mr. Dunning took steps to disengage his two platoons from their task at the western side of the Nathan Road/ Gascoigne Road junction and, re-joined by the third platoon, the company made a sweep southward along Nathan Road, which they were able to clear of crowds although these slipped into side streets and continued to throw stones and, on occasions, followed the company as it moved south. It was probably this company that was also followed by the reporter mentioned in para. 153. By this time, much damage had been done to traffic lights and traffic signs and there was a great deal of debris all over the road. There was a number of stationary vehicles north of Jordan Road though Nathan Road itself was now reasonably clear at the junction. The company pushed on south towards the junction of Austin Road with crowds tending to build up in front of it; pushing over traffic pagodas and piling up temporary bus railings, road repair boards, diversion signs etc. across the road to form obstructions. Banners were seen but at too great a distance to decipher the characters on them. The crowds kept retreating southwards ahead of the company but, breaking off, for a moment, from the movements of the police, we have had in the J.L.O.’s statement an account of how this area appeared from the other side. In his written statement, he tells us how at about 11.15 p.m. he moved north again behind a large procession from the Tsim Sha Tsui area. This appears to have been the crowd of which a part is shown in Plate 12. He said that he saw LO Kei, standing on a private car, addressing this crowd. Shortly afterwards, there was general rioting in the area; parking meters, ‘keep left’ signs and other traffic signs were being smashed. Evidence of this was also given in Court proceedings against LO Kei. He saw a 14 year old boy in front of him deliberately and in an apparent frenzy smash two parking meters and a ‘keep left’ sign. The boy appeared to be very wild and angry. He was arrested and was immediately very sorry for what he had done and in tears requested to be released. In fact he appeared to have some difficulty in remembering what he had done and the J.L.O. formed the impression that his behaviour was like that of a man who had recently thrown a fit. Other officers of the J.L.O. had arrested a 21 year old boy, for damaging motor-cycles parked outside the Miramar Hotel and attempting to set them alight. Some of the crowd moved towards the police officers shouting for the release of these prisoners. The police officers withdrew to the Miramar Coffee House where the grill doors prevented the crowd from attacking them. When the crowd realized this, they quickly returned to Nathan Road to continue their general destruction of anything at hand in the streets, but they appeared to find humour in this; laughing and joking as they smashed the signs. About 15 minutes later, a riot company— almost certainly Mr. Dunning’s Headquarter Company—approached from the north. The crowd jeered and threw stones and then dispersed into the side streets

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still, according to the J.L.O., in a good humour but a little later he met a small stone-throwing crowd of youths outside the President Hotel, who appeared to be in an angry mood. One of the youngsters cried ‘Juvenile Liaison Officer—strike the car’ and some stones were thrown.

153. We have had a somewhat similar picture from a newspaper reporter, who, having observed what had occurred north of Jordan Road, followed a police company down Nathan Road towards Tsim Sha Tsui. When it stopped at Austin Road he went ahead and near Haiphong Road at about 11 o’clock he saw a group of young people smashing traffic signs and parking meters. He said there were a lot of people watching but only about ten actively engaged in breaking things. He saw a crowd outside Mirador Mansion surrounding an American and threatening him; members of the crowds saying, ‘Ah, that is a European. Let us beat him up’, but the American was very calm and kept smiling saying, ‘I am on your side’ and finally the crowd left him alone. The reporter said that on the whole the crowd in this area appeared somewhat different from the crowd who were destroying traffic signs in Yau Ma Tei. They appeared to ffim to be somewhat better or more carefully dressed. As the police came on down the road, the crowd dispersed into the side streets, but he speaks then of a shower of bottles and other missiles coming down from roofs and higher floors.

154. As already mentioned, Headquarter company continued southwards, putting out fires and clearing the debris. They found a great deal of damage had been done to parking meters etc. in the Kimberley Road area. Road signs had been pulled down and set alight with kerosene, apparently taken from road work lanterns. Rubbish bins were scattered across the road and attempts had been made to set cars and motor cycles alight. When they arrived near the Chung King Mansions, a very large number of missiles and litter and bottles came down from the high buildings. Ahead of them a Fire Services tender, which was engaged in putting out a burning traffic pagoda, was attacked, but the attackers quickly dispersed when the police arrived. Apart from a move northwards to deal with rioting and reported looting at 229 Nathan Road—which turned out to be unnecessary as the Kowloon City company was in the area—they remained in the Tsim Sha Tsui area which was, by now, generally quiet, although occasional missiles were still coming down from the high buildings and the company was occupied until relieved by a company from Hong Kong Island in enforcing the curfew which had come into force at 1.30 a.m.

155. Meanwhile, the Kowloon City company had been moving south to carry

out the pincer movement described in para. 151. When this

company formed up

at the Austin Road junction they found the road littered with rubbish, wooden

boxes and bus signs; traffic lights were damaged and many stationary buses were stranded with flat tyres. The crowd in the area, however, quickly dispersed on the arrival of the police, but as these continued north, missiles including flower

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43

pots, pieces of wood, cement and rubbish were dropped on them from the buildings between Austin Road and Jordan Road; although the crowds ahead of them dispersed very quickly into the side streets. The company completed its northern sweep and was then sent southwards to the Tsim Sha Tsui area, again having to clear the road of debris, as they moved. They went as far as Peking Road, meeting Headquarter company at Haiphong Road, then turned north again. The main focus of trouble was now tending to shift north of Waterloo Road but before turning to that area it is necessary to mention one more operation to the south.

156. At about 1.50 a.m. on the morning of the 7th, Mr. Rose returned the command of the Yau Ma Tei company to Mr. Fergus with instructions to carry out a sweep of the area between Jordan Road and Austin Road. For this purpose No. 2 platoon of the company arrived at the junction of Nathan and Jordan Roads and found rioters setting fire to a vehicle and throwing stones. Tear smoke was fired; in addition it was found necessary, on the orders of the platoon commander to fire six rounds of revolver and one of sterling gun ammunition before the crowd dispersed. No casualties were, hpwever, seen. A few minutes later, the remaining two platoons and the company commander arrived in the area, the intention being to move one platoon down Nathan Road and the others down the roads to the west of it, in order to concentrate again further south on Nathan Road. However, as the platoons were alighting in Jordan Road near Pilkem Street, a barrage of flower pots and rubbish from a building, named ‘Lucky Mansion’ descended on them from a 12th storey stairway window. At 1.30 a.m. orders had been issued from Colony Police Operations room directing the use of all force, including firearms if lawful and justified, to suppress disorder. On Mr. Fergus’ instruction four shots were fired at this window. As far as is known, no one was hit but the barrage of rubbish and flower pots stopped.

157. The imposition of the curfew at 1.30 a.m. had also been announced, but there were, Mr. Fergus said, still many people about and these were told over the company’s loud hailers and, on occasions, in direct conversation that they should go home.

158. As the company moved further south and came near Mirador Mansion,

ii

issiles again began to

descend from this multi-storey building and, at one stage,

a bottle came through the roof of one of the trucks. In this area, at this time, the

police found it necessary to fire shots on a number of occasions at individuals throwing missiles including litter bins from roofs and stairways of high buildings as they had no other means of prevention available to them. Details of these shots are shown in Annex 10. So far as is known, no casualties were caused but we

were told that the shots were effective in causing at any rate a temporary cessation

in the missile throwing. Once this had been stopped, there was little further trouble in the area, which the platoons continued to patrol. Mr. Fergus, returning to the Yau Ma Tei Police Station, found a crowd of about 50 collecting outside, but they

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dispersed when he appeared in his land-rover. He then proceeded to investigate a reported fire at the Yau Ma Tei Post Office, where he found a fire was still burning by a side door but little damage had been done. Prior to this, he had seen, particularly in the vicinity of the Canton Road market, many fires, lit apparently with rubbish and timber from the hawker stalls etc. and from road works in the area.

159. Giving his description of the crowds over the evening, Mr. Fergus said that, at the beginning there were quite a few people older than 25 and some women but as the evening wore on these disappeared and at the later stages there were very few over 30. As for the dress and appearance of people generally, Mr. Fergus said that they were much the same on the evening of the 6/7th as they had been during the demonstration marching up and down Nathan Road on the previous evening, the main difference 'being that the older people virtually disappeared in the later stages of the night of the 6/7th. Asked whether the crowd generally appeared to be angry or enjoying themselves Mr. Fergus said:

‘We had a lot of jeering, particularly from a distance where we couldn’t touch people and so forth, and quite a lot of obscene remarks and so on passed—if they were enjoying themselves, they were enjoying themselves by smashing things up, that’s all I can say’.

I

His attention having been drawn to photographs showing youths with smiles and grins on their faces, he said:

‘Yes, I have seen the same photographs—may be the same sort of fun which makes it great fun at home to go and break windows, jolly good fun to throw a stone and hear something smash, I don’t know, they may well have been enjoying themselves, but certainly not innocent enjoyment’.

160. Police Action to quell disturbances—North of Waterloo Road. Meanwhile, trouble to the north of Waterloo Road had developed somewhat more slowly than to the south. Mr. McNutt commanding the Sham Shui Po company told us how, after the incident in Peiho Street described in para. 135, and on receipt of instructions from Headquarters, he proceeded with his company southwards towards the junction of Waterloo Road and Nathan Road at about 11.15 p.m. Two platoons moved down Nathan Road and one platoon down Shanghai Street, but at the junction of Nathan Road and Argyle Street, further passage became impossible because of blocked vehicles. The two platoons therefore turned left into Argyle Street as far as Yim Po Fong Street and then along Yim Po Fong Street, into Waterloo Road, and down Waterloo Road to the junction of Nathan Road where the Yau Ma Tei company was already in position. He arrived there at about midnight and the noise indicated that there was a large crowd in the vicinity but Mr. McNutt did not at first see many people as it had recently been dispersed.

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161. Meanwhile at 11.53 p.m. Emergency Unit Car No. 8, on patrol to the north, reported that it was under attack at the junction of Soy Street and Nathan Road. The vehicle was manned by an N.C.O. and three constables. It became trapped in a traffic jam between buses and road works and at 11.50 p.m. a noisy and hostile crowd of some 400 rioters approached from the south and when they saw the car they shouted, ‘Burn the car and stone them’. Immediately the crowd started to throw stones, breaking the driver’s window and setting fire to some wooden barriers ripped from adjacent roadworks. Orders to desist were ignored. The N.C.O. positioned his men round the vehicle to defend it and ordered them to fire if they were in any danger. About a dozen rioters followed by numerous hangers-on rushed the car shouting, ‘Burn them. The police dare not shoot us. Bum the vehicle’. A warning from the N.C.O. not to come closer was ignored and he fired one shot at the knees of the ringleaders. They stopped about 40 or 50 feet away and then came on with stones and poles. The N.C.O. fired two shots and the radio officer fired one shot at the knees of the ringleaders. The crowd now withdrew although they continued to throw stones. In all five rounds of revolver ammunition had been fired. No casualties were observed at the time, but subsequently it appeared that one youth had been hit in the leg. The car had asked, by radio, for assistance and Mr. Sutcliffe had ordered the Sham Shui Po company to the scene shortly after midnight. It proceeded by Waterloo Road, Yim Po Fong Street and Shantung Street and reported back that progress was impeded by extensive road blocks in Nathan Road near Shantung Street and traffic jams.

162. But the Marine company was in the vicinity, having been instructed by Mr. Rose, when it reached the Waterloo Road junction to continue northward in the direction of Mong Kok. Following these instructions, Mr. Ringer moved north up Nathan Road. There was, he said, a great deal of noise at the time and crowds —mainly young people between 15 and 25 years of age—throwing bottles and bricks, from the side streets, piling up rubbish and making fires as well as building barriers by using planks, bus signs, road signs and big cable drums. Tear smoke was used at some of the intersections but, whilst this would disperse the crowds for a time, they quickly reformed. Stones and planks were coming down from the high buildings. At 11.45 p.m. he had Nos. 1 and 3 platoons on the west side of Nathan Road facing Mong Kok and No. 2 on the east side in the vicinity of the Pitt Street junction and all were soon heavily engaged with crowds who were throwing bottles and stones, setting up barriers and lighting fires. The eastern carriageway was blocked with empty buses. Crowds were milling around and windows in the buses were being broken. Tear smoke failed to disperse the crowds. At about midnight, Mr. Rose instructed Mr. Ringer to use firearms to disperse a large crowd in front of one of the platoons on the west side of the Nathan Road and Hamilton Street area. The carbine section was called up and presented their carbines at the crowd, which retreated temporarily but reformed again. Shots were not, however, fired at this point. Instructions were now received

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to go to the aid of the emergency unit car No. 8 near Soy Street. Mr. Ringer took some of his men and with difficulty reached the car and its crew, both of which he brought back to his company having removed several buses in order to get the vehicle out.

163. Meanwhile Mr. McNutt had debussed one platoon in Shantung Street and marched to the junction of Soy Street and Nathan Road where the Police vehicle had already been extricated. On the way back to his vehicles, he and his party were stoned by a crowd in Soy Street. Near the junction of Soy Street and Sai Yeung Choi Street, a baton charge was launched and the pattern which repeated itself so often that evening emerged, viz: a crowd of 50 to 100 people would suddenly collect, attack the police with stones and then disperse just as quickly when charged. Mr. McNutt’s two platoons were engaged at this time in dispersing the crowds as they formed. He said, however, that the crowds, whilst stoning the police fairly heavily, were not particularly hostile and no missiles were being thrown from buildings in that area. Towards one o’clock the crowds in this vicinity were more or less dispersed and the area was quiet, but news had come through that the alarm in the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank at the junction of Argyle Street and Nathan Road had sounded at 12.20 a.m. Half a platoon was sent to investigate and information came back that vehicles were burning outside the bank but the interior was safe. At one o’clock instructions were received from Headquarters to go to the Fire Services Mainland Headquarters at the junction of Fife Street and Nathan Road which was under attack. Mr. McNutt took two platoons with him to this scene, the other platoon being still in Shanghai Street. He stopped his vehicles in Mong Kok Road and found a crowd of about 500 to 1,000 people milling around at the junction of Mong Kok Road and Nathan Road; this group attacked the police with stones, bottles, and other missiles. A second group of a similar size was milling around the junction of Sai Yeung Choi Street and Argyle Street, and a very serious fire was burning in the Shui Hing premises on the ground floor of Shaw’s Building. The front door of the neighbouring Fire Services Mainland Headquarters was also on fire and a large pile of wooden boxes was burning outside the Headquarters. A fire appliance was already at the scene, parked inside Sai Yeung Choi Street near the junction of Fife Street. A Fire Services Officer pointed out that if the fire in Shaw’s Building was not put out quickly, the whole building was in danger and that his firemen were unable to dismount from the vehicles and deal with the fire because of stones and other missiles coming from the crowd. Shaw’s Building is one of the large multi-storey buildings common in Hong Kong, with shops on the lower floors and offices and residential accommodation above. Mr. McNutt formed the impression that looters had gone into the Shui Hing Company and the watch company next door and had started a fire inside. He sent one platoon to the front of Shaw’s building to deal with the situation there and two columns of the other to the Fife Street/Sai Yeung Choi Street junction, where he also proceeded with his runner. He decided that

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it was necessary to disperse the crowd at the junction of Argyle Street and Sai Yeung Choi Street as quickly as possible. He and his runner each fired five revolver shots at the legs of the crowd, which began to move back. By the time firing had finished, the crowd had completely moved out of Sai Yeung Choi Street and was concentrated in Argyle Street: the shower of missiles on the police and Fire services personnel then stopped and the latter were able to alight from their vehicles and begin fighting the fires. The sergeant with the other platoon which had been sent to the front of Shaw’s Building had also fired a shot. The crowd on this side of the building was smaller than that on the Sai Yeung Choi Street side and was throwing missiles in the same way but including what appeared to be cotton waste soaked in kerosene and vehicles were burning near the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank building.

164. When Mr. McNutt moved his platoon to the junction of Argyle Street, he saw that the crowd was about to return. He therefore instructed the police constable with him to fire his carbine, one round over the head of the crowd and another at their feet. He did not have enough men with him to make a charge but he thought the position at the time was very dangerous and it was essential to show the crowd that the police were using firearms. The crowd then moved eastwards up Argyle Street near the junction with Sai Yee Street and Yim Po Fong Street, still about 500 to 1,000 strong and in an angry mood. Mr. McNutt’s runner indicated one man standing on the outside of the crowd, who appeared to be urging the crowd to attack the police—a man under 40 dressed in a white shirt and tie. Mr. McNutt ordered the police constable to fire at this man which he did. He was not hit and ran back into the crowd. A second constable was told to fire two rounds over the heads of the crowd, which then dispersed into the several streets leading off Argyle Street. Before Mr. McNutt issued his fire order, the platoon sergeant had called on the crowd over a loud hailer to desist from throwing stones or the police would open fire. Banners had also been put up but these could not be kept up for long as the police were being attacked. No serious injuries were received by the police, but many of them had bruises from the stones. Photographs of the damage to Shui Hing Co. and to vehicles in Argyle Street are at Plates 21 and 22. Shortly afterwards, the company was relieved in this area by the Traffic Office company and instructed to proceed to the Fire Services Building at Tong Mei Road where they linked up again with the platoon which had been left in Shanghai Street—but the incident reported was over when they arrived. They then proceeded to patrol the Sham Shui Po area until they got instructions at 2.25 a.m. to proceed to the Post Office at the junction of Nam Cheung Street and Yen Chow Street. On arrival, they found a relatively small crowd of about 40 people piling wooden boxes outside the post office and using kerosene to start a fire, but the crowd immediately broke up when the police appeared.

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165. Meanwhile, some distance from this area, a report was received from a mobile patrol that a group, about 30 strong was moving westwards along Argyle Street near Kowloon Hospital. Mr. Bretherton, commanding the Wong Tai Sin

company, which had been in reserve up to midnight, when it received instructions to move up and support the other companies with an admonition from Mr. Sutcliffe to use all force necessary to bring the situation under control, was now standing by near the flyover at Princess Margaret Road and Argyle Street. He

was ordered to deal with this group, whom he met marching in ranks of four abreast with the leading file carrying a banner, bearing Chinese characters reading ‘Oppose Star Ferry Increases’. Mr. Bretherton spoke to them and found that

they had an excellent command of English. He told them that the procession was

unlawful as no permit had been given for it and that, if they continued, they would

be liable to arrest. From their manner and general deportment, he took them to

be students. They were inclined to argue with him; however, he made it quite clear that he was not prepared to discuss the merits or demerits of the Star Ferry increase but intended simply to enforce the law. They responded to this,

turned about and broke up their formation.

166. Mr. Bretherton then moved his company up to the junction of Nathan Road and Shantung Street. At about 1.30 a.m. he received instructions to proceed to Bute Street to engage a crowd of rioters who were attacking the post office and a telephone exchange in Bute Street. He sent his No. 1 platoon into Nelson Street with the intention of sealing off the southern area from Bute Street, and took his remaining two platoons up Nathan Road and into Bute Street from Nathan Road. There were several small fires burning in the road and a fire at the entrance of the Post Office building. Several hundred yards down Bute Street towards Tong Mei Road, there was a large crowd, although the vicinity of the Post Office itself was deserted. With his Staff Sergeant, he turned into Portland Street and saw a crowd about 200 strong advancing towards him 100 yards down Portland Street. It was very noisy and, Mr. Bretherton thought, under the impression that he and his sergeant were the only policemen in the vicinity. The crowd began to throw stones and bottles and from the left flank of the advancing crowd came the sound of breaking glass, which he took to be the breaking of windows. There were various abandoned motor vehicles and buses in the street, and at that moment,

when Nos. 2 and 3 platoons were in the process of alighting from their vehicles, they were particularly vulnerable to attack. He noticed a distinct smell of kerosene from some broken bottles, so he warned the crowd in Cantonese to disperse or fire

would be opened. This had no effect and he directed his staff sergeant to fire.

One shot was aimed at a member of the crowd who appeared to be the rin

a

leader and the crowd ran back. They soon stopped however and turned again

facing the police, but, by this time, No. 2 platoon had come up and dispersed them with tear smoke.

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167. Mr. Bretherton described the state of Nathan Road at that time as being very thickly covered with broken glass and all sorts of debris; any moveable object had been thrown into the road, traffic signs, road signs, bus-stop signs, traffic pagodas had been overturned and one or two were on fire. There were small fires in the roadway, on the pavements and at entrances to shops and buildings; a number of motor vehicles were on fire and several had been burned out. Many buses and vehicles had been abandoned in Nathan Road, some obviously hastily as their engines were still running. This was about 1.30 a.m. on the morning of the 7th and Fire Services units were dealing with fires at their mainland headquarters and also in Shaw’s Building. Mr. Bretherton reformed his company, swept through the area in which he had been operating and went back into Nathan Road. He then received instructions to deal with a reported crowd of some 30 persons, who were said to be attacking premises in and around the general area of Tong Mei Road/Boundary Street/Nathan Road and Bute Street. He deployed his platoons into various formations and instructed them to carry out sweeps of all the adjacent roads in this area. They met scattered groups of people but it was clear to him that the latter had, by this time, lost heart, so far as the police were concerned, and had no desire to clash or resist the police: their main desire being to vanish whenever the police appeared. About 3.30 a.m. he received instructions to carry out a patrol of the Mong Kok divisional area and enforce the curfew which he did until his company stood down at 5 a.m.

168. Meanwhile, the Marine company, after rescuing emergency unit car No. 8,

had moved north to the Soy Street junction and secured it. There were still a lot

of people milling about and Mr. Ringer got a message that one of his constables

had fired two carbine shots. He extended his company further north towards

Argyle Street where there were many more fires. A report was received that attempts were being made to loot the department store of the Yan Yan Company at the junction of Nathan Road and Nelson Street. He went to the store and saw

that several windows had been broken and several rice cookers and other things

were apparently missing. As he moved north, he searched for the drivers of the abandoned buses and tried to persuade them to get their vehicles moving. When he reached Shaw’s Building, he found fires burning and the platoon of the Sham Shui Po company already ahead of him. On the way up he had seen a number of fires in the Argyle Street area and a number of burning vehicles. He made contact with Mr. McNutt, Commander of the Sham Shui Po company and came to the conclusion that Mr. McNutt could handle the position in that immediate area. Shortly afterwards, he learned that his own headquarters section was being attacked by a crowd of 100 people in the Soy Street area; he went to their aid and had not only to fire tear smoke but to put in a baton charge to deal with the situation. These measures were not entirely effective and members of the crowd could be seen trying to light fires. Orders to disperse through a loud hailer proved ineffective, so Mr. Ringer pointed a carbine at the crowd but it had no effect;

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PART III THE DISTURBANCES

instead, the stoning and bottle throwing increased: he then fired a warning shot, which proved effective.

169. Shortly after this, at about 1.50 a.m. he regrouped his company and proceeded to the China Light and Power Co.’s Office at the junction of Waterloo Road and Argyle Street as a report had been received that a crowd was trying to break in there—but this turned out to be false. The China Light and Power Co.’s personnel had asked for assistance to go to one of their transformers which had been damaged and this may have led to a misunderstanding: but, as they were seeking a police escort for the purpose of repairing China Light property which had been damaged, Mr. Ringer went with them to the Yau Ma Tei area where his company then continued to patrol. At about 3.15 a.m. they found a crowd pushing a car into Jordan Road near the junction of Canton Road. The crowd abandoned the car on the approach of the police. It was followed and arrests were made.

170. During this time Nathan Road between Gascoigne Road and Waterloo Road had been kept well under control by the Police Training Contingent and Yau Ma Tei companies; but, when, at about a quarter past midnight, No. 1 platoon of the company, which had been dealing with the crowds to the west of Nathan Road and in the vicinity of Wing Sing Lane and Temple Street, came back into Nathan Road, the crowd began to swell again with groups emerging from side streets and from doorways and to move menacingly towards the police. Mr. Rose, however, taking one platoon from the Yau Ma Tei company and one from the P.T.C. company, proceeded to deal with these crowds while the P.T.C. company extended its control southwards to Jordan Road. Thereafter, Mr. Rose was able to release the Yau Ma Tei company for the southern sweep already described, and about 2 a.m. Mr. Shave was ordered by Mr. Rose to re-form his P.T.C. company and move north. This he did with some difficulty, as the road was obstructed with stationary vehicles and various small fires scattered here and there. He moved up north towards the vicinity of Shaw’s Building, where he saw the aftermath of incidents we have already described. Thereafter, he patrolled the Sham Shui Po area which he found generally quiet.

171. Shortly after the Headquarter company had been relieved in the Tsim Sha Tsui district at 1.45 a.m. by the Police Training School company, it was ordered to deal with the alleged attack on the offices of the China Light and Power Company in Argyle Street. The company was then ordered at 2.15 a.m. to investigate a reported fire at the junction of Nathan Road and Mong Kok Road. As the company was passing the junction of Yim Po Fong Street and Argyle Street, Mr. Dunning saw rioters looting the premises of Jones Wong & Company and Yee On Hong. Goods were being taken from these premises and some had been piled in the road and set on fire; road signs as well as cars and scooters were also on fire but the looters fled on the approach of the police. One looter was arrested and

PART III THE DISTURBANCES

51

the fires were put out. No. 2 platoon was left in the area whilst the other platoons, after a brief rest, carried out curfew enforcement patrols in the Mong Kok area.

172. Meanwhile, the Kowloon City company, in accordance with instructions, had been making its way north in circumstances of some difficulty and had debussed at the Dundas Street junction at 2.05 a.m., forming cordons at the junctions of Dundas Street with Portland, Shanghai and Reclamation Streets and Canton Road. They were attacked intermittently from both sides by groups of 10 to 20 youths throwing missiles and, on one occasion, a mob of about 150 appeared on Nathan Road. This was dispersed with the aid of tear smoke. The first platoon then secured the junction of Nathan Road and Dundas Street whilst Nos. 2 and 3 platoons moved northwards to Soy Street securing the side streets on route. Continuous police action in the general area between Waterloo Road and Shantung Street with considerable use of tear smoke had gradually suppressed the rioting and at 2.30 a.m., Mr. Sutcliffe had reported to Colony Headquarters that he thought the situation in Kowloon was coming under control. By 3 a.m. things were generally quieter.

173. ‘A’ Company, 1st Bn. The Queen’s Own Buffs patrolled in the Waterloo Road area to assist in curfew enforcement from 4.45 a.m. Other units of Her Majesty’s Forces had reported to police stations but no other units were deployed in the streets for the purpose of suppressing riots during this evening.

174. Traffic Diversion. One motorist complained to us that on the night of the 6/7th he was diverted into, rather than away from, the danger area west of Nathan Road. It may be that there was an individual error on this occasion and, as we shall see, additional precautions were taken on the following night. We had no other indication that in general the important but difficult task of diverting traffic in a changing situation did not receive adequate attention.

175. Summary. From the preceding account of the events of this night it is evident that no clear and concise summary is possible. One incident led on to another and the pattern was kaleidoscopic though repetitive. A crowd would gather to take part in demonstrations or to watch the banner-bearing groups in Nathan Road: it would gradually swell in size and one or two members would start to throw things at passing vehicles or to break traffic signs or parking meters, an example that proved contagious; when the police arrived, stones and other missiles were thrown. The police would give warnings and then use batons or tear smoke to break up the crowds. The crowds would disperse into side streets or up staircases and re-appear when the police party had moved on. Although elements of groups broken up at one point by the police would probably tend to re-appear at another, there was little evidence of any co-ordination of the mobs or of any direct targets of attack: in particular, no damage was done to the Star Ferry Co.’s property. The main damage was to the obvious targets in the streets such as cars,

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PART III THE DISTURBANCES

shop windows, traffic signs and the police. This is borne out by the damage to property reported to the police as listed at Appendix 8. Details of claims for awards in respect of injuries and damage arising from the disturbances are contained in the report of the Kowloon Disturbances Claims Assessment Board.

176. The disturbances were confined to the area of Nathan Road from Tsim Sha Tsui in the south to Sham Shui Po in the north, with nearly all the incidents confined to a two mile stretch of Nathan Road and the side streets on either side up to a maximum of 500 yards on the west. There was no evidence of disturbances in Kowloon east of the railway line or in the heavily populated resettlement estates to the north. This confirms the impression of most commentators that the main aim of the rioters was to occupy Nathan Road and the main aim of the police was to prevent this. There is a population of about half a million people in this area and its immediate vicinity and the evidence indicates that although crowds were large, they were only a small proportion of the potential in the area. No estimate of the total number of participants in the disturbances has been made but all observers agreed that the crowds were predominantly composed of youths.

177. The number of casualties suffered by police and public on this night is set out in Appendix 6, the amount of ammunition used by the police in Appendix 9 and details of persons arrested during the riots and the results of subsequent proceedings is shown in Appendix 7. During the curfew period on the night of the 6th/7th, a total of 427 persons were arrested; of these 334 were charged with breach of curfew only, 16 with breach of curfew and other offences and two with other offences: 75 were released.

CHAPTER 4.

THE EVENTS OF APRIL 7/8TH. THE SECOND NIGHT OF RIOTING

178. After the lifting of the curfew at 6 a.m. on April 7th, every effort was

in

ade to clear the streets so that the life of the

city could return to normal. Police

in the streets were confined to mobile and foot patrols and there was no indication of further disorders before the early evening. The morning newspapers expressed shock at the previous night’s events. Appeals by the Governor and civic leaders,

condemning the violence which had occurred and calling for an end to the disturbances were broadcast and published.

Police Precautions

179. Police companies in Kowloon were formed as for the previous night with the addition of the Auxiliary company but the Traffic Office company was reduced

to two platoons in order to permit normal traffic duties to continue during the day, and special diversion teams to be available during the night. Companies rested

durin

the day.


PART III THE DISTURBANCES

53

180. The distribution of manpower in Kowloon District at the outbreak of further rioting that night was:

Uniformed Branch

Divided between:

3,600

C.I.D..........356

Riot Companies Stations Mobile Patrols Foot patrols Key Posts &

1,167

1,262

129

757

half on and half off duty half on and half off duty half on and half off duty

unallocated

Pol./Mil. H.Q.

147

138

half on and half off duty

181. In addition, a number of military units were deployed to police stations or on standby in barracks as described in Part IV, Chapter 3.

Outbreak of disturbances

182. The first incident of the evening occurred when a report was received at 6.20 p.m. of a youth addressing a crowd outside Shaw’s Building, which had been the scene of the most serious incident of the previous night. On investigation, it was found that he was urging the crowd to follow him to the oil installations at Lai Chi Kok; the crowd moved off in a westerly direction and later were dispersed without difficulty. Three arrests were made as a result of this incident.

183. Apart from this, Kowloon appeared generally quiet and no incidents were reported by mobile patrols in the areas in which the previous night’s disturbances had occurred. However, various witnesses spoke of a feeling of tenseness in the crowds on the streets, e.g.

Mr. Dunning: ‘It seemed that people were waiting for something to happen’;

Mr. Rose: ‘I had a feeling of tenseness and a great many of the youths in these groups appeared to me to be similar to the rioters the previous evening’; and

Juvenile Liaison Office report: ‘many groups of youths stood around street corners as if expecting something to happen. They appeared to be only awaiting leaders but there was no sign of organization. The situation amongst them was tense

184. The next incident occurred at 9.30 p.m., when a report was received of a crowd of 150 persons at the junction of Argyle Street and Nathan Road—another scene of serious damage—where three youths were boasting of their activities on the previous evening. The police sought to disperse this crowd but it became hostile and stones were thrown. Warnings were given, tear smoke fired and the crowd dispersed southwards. Eight arrests were made and the police company returned to base.

185. This incident would appear to have given currency to reports that crowds entering and leaving the cinemas in this area at about this time had tear smoke

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fired at them. We questioned a senior police officer on this and he readily admitted that cinema crowds might have become involved as innocent by-standers. This was unfortunate but we are satisfied that an incident was taking place in the area and warnings given before tear smoke was used and the police could hardly be expected to distinguish between active and passive elements in the crowd when it was clearly their duty to prevent a serious breach of the peace.

186. Shortly after this, further reports were received of a crowd of about 100 in Argyle Street near Sai Yeung Choi Street and of a second crowd of about 200 at the junction of Nathan Road and Shantung Street to the south. Headquarter company dispersed these crowds and by 10.40 p.m. the area appeared quiet, apart from isolated incidents of stone throwing.

187. A 10.50 p.m. a report was received that a crowd of 1,000 at the junction of Nathan Road and Shantung Street, outside the King Wah restaurant, was stopping vehicles and throwing stones. At the same time a crowd of 500 was reported at the junction of Portland Street and Shantung Street scattering wood in the road: this would appear to have been part of the same crowd. Headquarter company was ordered to move northwards from the last incident to engage this crowd. The police turned about and were stoned by the crowd at the junction of Nathan Road/Dundas Street and the company fired tear smoke, pushing the crowd northwards. At 11 p.m. Headquarter company had cleared Nathan Road up to Shantung Street and the crowd was retreating, although still hostile and throwing stones and other missiles at the police and attacking buses.

188. This was the major incident of this night involving a large crowd and it was described to us by two bus drivers, a cameraman and a reporter. The photographs at Plates 23 and 24 show a crowd of young people outside the King Wah restaurant starting to barricade the road and to stone the traffic. The photographer described them as curious by-standers, who, nevertheless were prepared to join in; when someone shouted ‘let’s throw’ they would all start throwing.

189. A reporter in the same location described how the crowd grew spontaneously from three or four persons to several hundreds: then a police car came past and some people threw stones: then the crowd quietened down: ‘and then one young chap stood up in the crowd, walked into the middle of Nathan Road and picked up some kind of warning lantern .... and kicked it ... . and everyone shouted . . . .’ Following this incident, he described attacks on buses and then attacks on press photographers. His impression was that the crowds in the street were smaller than usual and composed, he said, mainly of ‘hawkers, children from poor families, street boys, unemployed’.

190. The bus drivers described how they had seen nothing unusual during their trips up and down Nathan Road until they ran into crowds at the Shantung Street junction between 10.40 and 10.50 p.m., who, before the passengers could alight, stoned the buses and broke all the windows.

PART HI THE DISTURBANCES

55

191. Meanwhile, Yau Ma Tei company had been ordered to support Headquarter company by sweeping eastwards from Reclamation Street to Nathan Road via Nelson Street, Shantung Street and Soy Street. No crowds were contacted in these streets to the west of Nathan Road, but small fires were burning, which obstructed the company vehicles. While the vehicles were held up in negotiating these obstructions, a crowd of youths were seen approaching from the north, pulling various roadblocks into Reclamation Street. This crowd started to stone the vehicles. The police guarding the vehicles gave warnings and, when tear smoke failed to deter the youths, two rounds of ammunition were fired. The crowd dispersed but later another attack was launched on two policemen guarding the vehicles. After this incident, the company joined up with Headquarter company in Nathan Road and moved north.

192. Meanwhile also, further support had been given to the Headquarter company in Nathan Road by the arrival of the Sham Shui Po company which was ordered to take up position in Yim Po Fong Street between Argyle Street and Waterloo Road, to the east of Headquarter company, with instructions to prevent any rioters breaking out into other areas to the east. They encountered no incidents other than a small crowd setting fire to market paraphernalia in Soy Street near Fa Yuen Street, which they dealt with.

193. At approximately 11.10 p.m. Headquarter company was continuing its advance up Nathan Road past the junction with Fife Street. The crowd ahead, although still extremely hostile, was not prepared to stand and resist, but merely obstructed the company’s advance by placing obstacles in its path and by stoning it from a distance. By 11.25 p.m. the company had reached the junction of Nathan Road and Bute Street. The main crowd had dispersed and only three small mobs remained active. These were located in Bute Street to the west of Nathan Road, in Lai Chi Kok Road and in the vicinity of the Royal Theatre in Nathan Road. A car was burning in Bute Street and the mob there was dispersed, while attempting to overturn another vehicle. Tear smoke was fired to disperse the three mobs and, although they reformed after the smoke had drifted away, they finally broke up under continued pressure and dispersed. By midnight this area was reported to be quiet and free of rioters.

194. At about 11.50 p.m. the Kowloon City company arrived at Waterloo Road with instructions to drive northwards via Nathan Road and the streets to

the west. This company came under immediate attack from small groups of youths; in particular, hostile groups at the junction of Shanghai Street and Pitt Street and at the junction of Canton Road and Pitt Street obstructed the advance

of Nos. 1 & 2 platoons and necessitated the use of tear smoke and wooden pro-

jectiles. One round of ammunition was used in dispersing a group of youths which

emerged from Man Ming Lane and was lighting fires in Nathan Road. Durin

the

company’s advance they were under frequent bombardment by missiles and refuse

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PART III THE DISTURBANCES

dropped from the rooftops and windows of multistorey buildings. The company reached Soy Street at about 1 a.m., where a platoon was sent to extinguish the fire which had been reignited after the previous action by the Sham Shui Po company. In the course of this, two rounds of ammunition were fired.

195. At about midnight, a group of rioters broke into the Gala Cinema and a military unit was sent to deal with this incident.

196. Meanwhile, the Marine company had been ordered from Yau Ma Tei Police Station at 11.30 p.m. to deal with a crowd at Dundas Street, which was reported to be damaging parking meters and road signs and overturning cars. The company was stoned as it passed up Nathan Road, clearing obstructions and putting out fires in the road. At Dundas Street the company came under attack from a hostile crowd of about 30-40. Stones and bottles were thrown at the police and also a type of fuel bomb which ignited on impact—apparently similar to those which had been used against the Wong Tai Sin company on the previous night. The company commander, fearing for the safety of his transport and ammunition, called on the crowd to disperse and when they did not do so, he fired one round. When the crowd dispersed as a result of this, one man was found with a wound in his thigh and hand and another with a serious wound in his chest. The latter died shortly after arrival in hospital, and at the subsequent inquest, a verdict of excusable homicide was entered. A report in an English newspaper of 8th April described this incident as follows:

‘Last night I watched as Police were forced to open fire on an uncontrollable mob overturning cars at Mong Kok. One man was killed and another wounded . . . . the man, Cheng Yan Cheung, 28, was shot in the chest and died after being taken to Kwong Wah Hospital.

Cheng was shot when police opened fire on a rioting crowd in Dundas Street near Nathan Road about midnight.

Before firing they gave constant warnings to the crowds to disperse.

Police stretcher bearers raced into the crowd and carried the two wounded men into Nathan Road .... his death was hurried along because shouting, screaming mobs of rioters would not give way to an ambulance which had been called by Police.

While Police were putting Cheng into the ambulance they were under a petrol bomb barrage’.

197. After this incident, the Marine company continued to disperse small crowds at the intersections with Nathan Road in this area, until they were ordered to move south to Waterloo Road at about 1 a.m. From there they dealt with a crowd lighting fires in Portland Street and they extinguished a number of small fires in the area. A further attempt was made to bum the Yau Ma Tei Post Office but a Fire Services unit extinguished the fire at 1.30 a.m.

198. Although conditions were generally quieter after midnight and the

situation was rapidly coming under control, reports were still being received of

PART III THE DISTURBANCES

57

small mobs active in the Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei districts. Various streets bordering the area in which the disturbances occurred had been picketed by troops to prevent the spread of disturbances.

199. Until midnight, only the five police companies, whose actions have been described, were engaged in suppressing the riots. Shortly after, however, the curfew was promulgated and the Wong Tai Sin, Auxiliary and Police Training Contingent companies moved up to give assistance in restoring order. At 12.15 a.m. a proclamation was made under the Peace Preservation Ordinance (Chapter 244) that the Colony should be subject to Parts 2 and 3 of that Ordinance. The effect of this is to give increased powers of search and arrest to Justices of the Peace and police officers authorized by them.

200. The main incidents between midnight and 1 a.m. were as follows. At about 12.20 a.m. Yau Ma Tei company advanced on a crowd which was attempting to set fire to vehicles at the junction of Mong Kok Road and Shanghai Street. After warnings and tear smoke had failed to disperse the crowds, a total of seven rounds of ammunition were fired without any casualties being observed. In another incident involving a platoon of this company in Mong Kok Road near Tung Choi Street, a mob of people with burning torches who were attempting to set fire to a vehicle were dispersed after one shot had been fired.

201. At 12.30 a.m. the Auxiliary company, on arriving at Tong Mei Road with instructions to set up a cordon to prevent crowds spreading to the west, saw a crowd of 150-200 destroying property and building fires in the road, which endangered the lines of parked vehicles. The company was attacked with stones and debris as they alighted from their vehicles and the crowds started to build barricades in Tong Mei Road. They failed to disperse when warnings were given and tear smoke had to be used.

202. At about the same time, the Wong Tai Sin company arrived at the junction of Nathan Road and Public Square Street with ‘B’ Company 1/2 Gurkha Rifles in support to deal with a crowd of 300 in this vicinity, reported to be burning the traffic pagoda and making fires in Nathan Road. The crowd gradually grew in size but retreated as the police and troops marched down Nathan Road; the company halted at Jordan Road after the crowd had dispersed into side streets; the majority ran off in the direction of the vehicular ferry concourse and were dispersed with tear smoke into the side streets off Jordan Road. The company then continued down Nathan Road into Tsim Sha Tsui, where they encountered no serious incident and were mainly engaged in enforcing the curfew, which had come into effect at 12.30 a.m.

203. Between 1 and 2 a.m. the main incidents were as follows. The Yau Ma Tei company used tear smoke to disperse small crowds in the streets West of Nathan Road in Mong Kok and one shot was fired to prevent missiles being thrown from

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PART III THE DISTURBANCES

windows and rooftops. Later, at 1.50 a.m., six shots were fired at a small mob at the junction of Temple Street and Jordan Road which was trying to set fire to a car after warnings and tear smoke had failed to disperse them.

204. The Kowloon City company dealt with an incident in Soy Street, as already described in paragraph 194 and the Headquarter company returned to base at 1.25 a.m.

205. Shortly before 1 a.m. a report was received of a fire outside the Yau Ma Tei Post Office and the Marine company dispersed two crowds in this area, making 20 arrests.

206. At 1.30 a.m. an attack was made on a fire appliance returning to Tong Mei Road Fire Station, but the crowd was held off by the escorts and a military unit sent to the scene found that the crowd had dispersed.

207. By 2.30 a.m. rioting had died down and the police companies reverted to curfew enforcement duties.

208. It is clear from the narrative in the preceding paragraphs that the disturbances on April 7/8th were confined to a more limited area and to a shorter period of time than on the previous night.

209. One reason for this appears to lie in the precautions taken. Not only were the police better prepared on this night but they had additional personnel available and the benefit of their experience in dealing with the crowds on the previous night. In addition, there was an earlier curfew and the obvious presence of troops on the streets to deter all but the more determined troublemaker.

210. A further reason, however, was the absence of the large crowds attracted to the demonstrations on the previous night by curiosity and the prospect of what they thought was only a little excitement. On this night there is no evidence of any demonstrations or banners and, consequently, the casual onlookers who may have been drawn into the rioting on the first night through support for the demonstrators or pure curiosity were less evident on the second night, after dispersal of the large crowd in the Nathan Road/Shantung Street area and the evident determination of the Police to take firm action.

211. That the participants in the disturbances on this night were more aggressive although fewer in number, is indicated by the evidence of a number of police officers who gained the impression that the crowds on the 7/8th were composed of people who appeared more determined and more hostile to the police than on the 6/7th. The evidence of newspaper reporters and photographers confirms that this hostility extended to them also. The reason why, in spite of this, less damage to property occurred seems to lie in the greater speed with which the police moved against gathering crowds.

PART III THE DISTURBANCES

59

212. The effect of these two factors—smaller crowds, and a greater degree of police control—is evident in the smaller amount of damage caused on this night (see details in Appendix 8) and the fewer casualties suffered. Also, fewer persons were arrested—a total of 237, of whom 198 were charged with breach of curfew, 12 with breach of curfew and other offences three with other offences and 24 released.

CHAPTER 5. THE EVENTS OF 8TH / 9TH APRIL

213. In the light of the rioting which had occurred on the previous two nights, the security authorities decided that the most rigorous precautions were justified to prevent any further outbreaks of violence. Accordingly, at 3.30 p.m., the Governor ordered a curfew over Kowloon and New Kowloon between 7 p.m. on 8th April and 6 a.m. on 9th April. This was promulgated by every possible means and curfew passes were issued to those who had essential reasons for being on the streets during those hours.

214. Also, it was agreed by the District Commander, Kowloon and his military counterpart that army units would cordon the areas in which disturbances had occurred the previous night from Prince Edward Road in the north to Public Square Street in the south. Eight police companies were to be deployed inside this cordon to enforce the curfew and to stop any disturbances developing. This operation commenced at the onset of curfew and only minor opposition was encountered by the police companies. The strength of forces available to the police was almost the same as on the previous night.

215. The prearranged curfew combined with patrols by police companies within the ‘box’ formed by the military cordon were almost entirely effective in clearing the streets. Photographs and evidence from press reporters confirm the District Commander’s report that by 8 p.m. the curfew was nearly completely effective.

216. The only reported incidents on this night were as follows:

(«) At 7.30 p.m. bottles and stones were thrown at a platoon of the Wong Tai Sin company from the rooftop of a multi-storey building in Canton Road in Mong Kok. Several arrests were made as a result.

(Z?) At about the same time, a crowd of 50 persons at the junction of Soy Street and Canton Road was dispersed by another platoon of the same company.

(c) Between 8 and 8.25 p.m. action was taken against a group of youths in the area of Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui. Two arrests were made and a number of bottles seized.

217. At 11.20 p.m. police companies were ordered to return to base and replaced by platoon patrols. The military cordons were withdrawn some time later after no further incidents had occurred.

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PART III THE DISTURBANCES

218. The measures taken by the security authorities and the realization amongst potential trouble-makers that firm measures would be taken to suppress any disturbances combined to ensure a complete cessation of the disturbances on this night.

219. No casualties or damage to property were reported and only four rounds of tear smoke were used. During the curfew period, 523 persons were arrested: of these, 335 (64%) were released, 185 charged with breach of curfew and three charged with other offences.

PART IV

THE MEASURES TAKEN TO DEAL WITH THE DISTURBANCES

CHAPTER 1.

POLICE ACTION

The Demonstrations

220. Police action necessarily played a part in the occurrences from the demonstrations on April 4/5th to the outbreak of rioting on April 6th and in some cases influenced the course of events. In this chapter we look more closely at the decisions taken by the police, the reasons for them and the part they played in producing the ultimate pattern.

221. The ‘Hunger Strike". We were told that SO Sau Chung was kept under observation from the moment he took up position at the Star Ferry Concourse but, whilst recognizing that he was an object of interest, the police considered that he was not causing any real obstruction to persons passing to and from the Star Ferry and orders were given that no precipitate action should be taken to arrest him, unless it was necessary to prevent a positive obstruction.

222. We are satisfied on the evidence before us that the arrest of SO was quite in order and that no undue force was used. This is in contrast to the information which the demonstrators appear to have given Mr. Bernacchi and Mrs. Elliott outside the Urban Council Chamber. According to a newspaper reporter, they claimed that SO was not causing an obstruction, that he had riot been warned to leave and that excessive force had been used in his arrest. We quote this at length here since it typifies the sort of mischievous exaggeration to which these young people were prone in describing police actions that interfered with their wishes.

223. We are satisfied that the decision taken by the police in tolerating SO’s demonstration until he invited action by moving up to the turnstiles was based on good grounds, although, with the benefit of hindsight, it is possible to speculate that the subsequent escalation of events might not have occurred if SO had been asked to leave before his gesture had attracted the considerable publicity which it did and gained the support of a number of youths. On the other hand, from what we saw of SO, it would seem unlikely that a request to leave would have been tamely obeyed.

224. The Demonstration March. The action taken by the police in respect of the demonstration march on 5/6th April and the prior information on which

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PART IV THE MEASURES TAKEN TO DEAL WITH THE DISTURBANCES

this action was based have already been described in Part III Chapter 1. This was the first peaceful demonstration to have been experienced in Hong Kong and it is understandable that the direction which it would take was likely to be as unknown to the police as it was to the demonstrators.

225. All the evidence indicates that the police tolerated the procession in a fair and reasonable manner and that only when events showed signs of getting out of hand did they intervene. No doubt, the demonstration might have been stopped at the Star Ferry before it moved off for the first time or after the speeches by LO Kei and Raggensack and before the second march, but there was always the danger that this action might only have precipitated the events which followed, and we have no criticism now to make of the police action in permitting the demonstration to continue as far as it did.

226. Recurrence of demonstrations on 6th April. The precautions taken by the Police, in the early hours of the morning of April 6th after the demonstration march, have been described in Part III Chapter 2. The evident reluctance of many of the young demonstrators to keep the peace and to obey police orders were, in our opinion, sufficient justification for the precautionary measures taken.

227. This justification was enhanced by the general public mood of excitement and anticipation; by the recurrence of demonstrations at the Star Ferry concourses in Kowloon and Hong Kong on the afternoon of April 6th; by the events after the arrest of the demonstrator in Kowloon, which followed a similar pattern to that after SO’s arrest; and by the reports received about demonstrations to be held in Kowloon that evening.

228. As a result, the relevant police officers were alerted but orders remained to observe and not to intervene unless a breach of the peace was threatened. In accordance with these orders, D.S. Yau Ma Tei dealt very tolerantly with the demonstrators who arrived from Hong Kong at Jordan Road (para. 130) and D.S. Sham Shui Po in the same manner with the demonstrators who arrived from Hong Kong at the Sham Shui Po ferry pier (para. 134). A procession first seen at the Star Ferry Kowloon at approximately 8 p.m. and later observed marching up Nathan Road to Mong Kok and back to the Star Ferry was similarly tolerated, and attracted little or no attention.

229. The situation changed rapidly, however, with the crowd marching on Yau Ma Tei Police Station, the incident in Nathan Road and the subsequent outburst of violence at Public Square Street.

The Riots

230. Riot Suppression 6/7th April. Soon after 10.00 p.m., Nathan Road between Waterloo Road in the North and Austin Road in the South was milling with people, traffic was held up and stones were being thrown at police, at buses

PART IV THE MEASURES TAKEN TO DEAL WITH THE DISTURBANCES

63

and at private vehicles. The evidence which we were given as to the tactics employed by the police in dealing with the disturbances on this night is summarized in the following paragraphs.

231. On receipt of the reports of the worsening situation, the District Commander despatched his Second-in-Command to make a personal assessment. Almost immediately Mr. Rose ran into large unruly crowds near Waterloo Road and the H.Q. company was despatched to his assistance. Having checked that all was quiet in other divisions, the District Commander then ordered a further two companies to proceed to the scene of the trouble by different routes in order to form a box round Mr. Rose and to contain the disturbances in Yau Ma Tei District.

232. These three companies were placed under the command of Mr. Rose. Generally speaking, the strategy of containing and suppressing the disturbances in the Yau Ma Tei area and preventing their spread to the densely populated resettlement estates to the north was successful and, until about midnight, the disorders were contained in the area south of Argyle Street. However the disturbances gradually spread north, owing to the highly mobile nature of the crowds, which dispersed when the police sought to engage them and reappeared elsewhere through the side street off Nathan Road.

233. The main actions of the night have already been described in Part III and the imposition of the curfew is dealt with in Chapter 2 of this Part. The only other points to be noted are:

(a) At 10.50 p.m. full Force mobilization was ordered, and, shortly after, the Auxiliary Police, who had been placed on standby, were mobilized.

(Z>) At 12.05 a.m. H.Q. company, while dealing with an incident in Tsim Sha Tsui, was instructed by Pol./Mil. H.Q. to use firearms, if lawfully justified, to preserve life and property. This was followed at 1.30 a.m. by an instruction from the CP Ops Room to all district commanders to use all force necessary, including firearms if lawful and justified, to suppress disorders. The occasions on which firearms were used are dealt with in paragraphs 247-252 below.

(c) At 1.05 a.m. H.E. The Governor agreed to the use of troops in aid of the civil power. The use to which troops were put is dealt with in Chapter 3 of this Part.

234. The measures taken by the police were effective in bringing the situation under control after considerable damage had been done but without loss of life and with comparatively little injury to individuals; so little indeed that many were getting ready, as events would show, to seek further excitement on the following night. / s ;

235. Whilst the riots on this night were profoundly disturbing and must have appeared full of menace to many who saw them, there was, fortunately, little or

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