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With New Arrests, Hong Kong’s Police Try to Change the Narrative

The police on Wednesday sought to counter accusations by protesters that they had been too slow to respond to the Yuen Long attack. While the police had initially said that officers arrived on the scene 39 minutes after receiving reports, Mr. Chan said on Wednesday that they had actually responded within 18 minutes. The previous time was quoted before officers had a chance to comprehensively analyze surveillance footage, he said.

Protesters also accused the police of being friendly with the men in white T-shirts, which Mr. Chan disputed. He said that an officer shown on video placing his hand on the shoulder of one of the men in white was actually giving him a commanding push, not a friendly pat, as the gesture was widely perceived at the time.

“We have to restore the truth,” Mr. Chan said, adding that accusations of police inaction and collusion were slanderous and made to further political agendas. He said that the force was firmly against any act of violence and that those who committed crimes would have to bear the consequences.

“As long as there is evidence proving you have broken the law, the police will enforce the law diligently and impartially,” he said.

Before Wednesday, the police had already arrested 44 people believed to be part of the white T-shirt gang, and prosecutors had charged eight of them with rioting.

Thirteen of the 16 people detained on Wednesday are also accused of taking part in the Yuen Long attack, the police said. They said the group included a bank vice president, a chef, a driver, a technical worker and others. Some of those arrested have ties to organized crime groups known as triads, Mr. Chan said.

The three others, as well as Mr. Lam, were arrested in connection with an encounter in July 2019 outside the Tuen Mun police station, when a group of people surrounded a man who was taking photos of protesters, snatched the phone away and deleted the images, according to a police statement. The police said they were detained on suspicion of “unlawful assembly,” “criminal damage,” “obstruction of justice” and “accessing electronic devices with dishonest intent.”

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