China: Hundreds of Riot Police Battle the People of Shishou

June 22nd, 2009

The text below is an AP piece, but you should really click through to see the images and videos. This is just a sample.

Via: AP / East South West North:

Hundreds of baton-wielding police on Sunday dispersed protesters and cordoned off a city hotel in central China after a young man’s mysterious death sparked unrest, a local official and a witness said.

More than 200 people were injured in the clashes between police and residents outside the hotel in Hubei province’s Shishou city, according to a Hong Kong-based rights group, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

Hundreds had been angered by the death of 24-year old Tu Yuangao, who was found dead Wednesday evening in front of the Yonglong hotel. Tu’s relatives believe he was killed by the hotel boss, who is related to the mayor, the rights group said.

Discontent with local officials and police in China often leads to mass protests, which can gather size and force with remarkable speed. Mild frustration can turn into fury within minutes.

A local resident surnamed Chen said protesters started gathering outside the hotel Friday and by late Saturday had clashed five or six times with police, smashing six police vans and fire trucks. Chen said thousands of armed police forces with shields and batons were deployed in the area. The crowd started dispersing early Sunday, but security was tight, he said. “The area around the hotel is still cordoned off by hundreds of police with batons,” Chen said in a telephone interview Sunday.

A man who answered the phone at the Shishou government said the crowd dispersed after local authorities persuaded them to leave and that there had been no conflicts since Saturday afternoon. The man, who refused to give his name, said authorities were investigating the death of Tu, whose body was moved from the hotel to a funeral parlor Sunday. Chinese media reported that police ruled out murder, saying they found a suicide note.

Amateur video clips of the protest posted online showed hundreds of riot police marching down a street to reinforce a human barricade formed by officers who held their shields above their heads, supported by police vans and fire trucks. In one clip, hundreds of protesters were seen surging toward police, picking up objects from the ground and hurling them at the officers, who retreated. The video appeared to be posted by a U.S.-based user on YouTube, which is blocked in China. It could not be independently verified.

2 Responses to “China: Hundreds of Riot Police Battle the People of Shishou”

  1. oelsen Says:

    Welcome to the 21st century, China 😀

    The tension between the center and the periphery increases – and the new media will only increase it further.

  2. Eileen Says:

    Its kind of refreshing for me to see people protesting the curious/spurious death of another human being – and to see the cops beat a retreat in the face of most likely, righteous anger. Wow.
    I’ve never seen anything like this video – armed truncheons running away from unarmed crowds. Curious as what Tu Yuangao did to provoke his murder (sure there was a suicide note – wink)and why the numb nut mayor was thinking. Protect my relative from murder charges. Right. Seems its a good thing that people are seeing through the hype.

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