WHAT IS THIS ARTICLE ABOUT?
HK Protester and their supporters have made some very serious accusation against the HK Police. This article provide evidence on why it is false.
WHAT IS THE PROTESTER'S ACCUSATION?
HK Protesters have accused HK Police of sending undercover officers to throw petrol bomb during protests, in order to smear the protester's reputation.
WHY SO MANY PEOPLE SPREAD AND BELIEVED IT?
1. HK Protesters had a very peaceful reputation
A lot of people find it hard to believe that "real" HK Protesters who make way for ambulances and cleaning up trashes after protest would do something so violent.
*This is not the case anymore after the Polytechnic University Siege in November 2019. Various international journalist have interviewed many radical protesters and it is impossible for them to be all undercover polices (Learn more).
2. Police have been using real undercover officers in various protests
Police officials have confirmed that undercover officers have been used to track down and arrest violent protesters back in Aug 11 Causeway bay (Source).
3. Protest supporters deliberately spread fake info to smear the Police
Some protest supporters wanted to maintain the momentum of the protest through provoking hatred towards towards the Police force. Some deliberately make up and share fake info for the protester's advantage; while many just spread fake info without bothering to check the facts (See next part).
WHAT RUMORS DID THEY USE SPREAD IT？
A Protester who threw petrol bombs of a bridge was seen carrying a police gun, the "Glock 17 Pistol"
@31 AUG - Admiralty (around 6 pm)
What is this rumor about?
A protester who was hurling a petrol bomb at police officers from a bridge in Admiralty was spotted carrying a gun in a holster. On social media some ‘experts’ claimed that it looks like a real Glock 17 gun (a police gun model), hence claims he is very likely to be an undercover police (Source).
What made this rumor look so real?
On the same day, police officials have confirmed that two warning shots has been fired by real undercover officers when their cover was blown and attacked by protesters near Victoria park (Source).
A 9 mm LUGER SPEED bullet shell (confirmed to be fired by a real undercover officer), is found on the floor of Victoria park near the site of shooting. The bullet is compatible with the Glock 17. (Source). A photo of the real undercover police officer holding a similar gun is also being found online.
Why this rumor is still very likely to be fake?
Evidence #1 - That Protester is holding BB pellet container
This photo was taken on the spot by May James / HKFP. The bottle looks very much like a BB pellet container (Source).
Evidence #2 - Civil Human Rights Front have confirmed it is an air gun
Civil Humans Right Front posted a statement issued by another Telegram channel used to verify news at 12.22 am today and confirmed on their official Telegram Channel that the Glock17 gun was indeed an air gun. They verified it with the protester and a member of the air gun association (Source).
https://t.me/antiextraditionverifiednews/1601 (Message @Sep 1st 00.06am)
https://t.me/CivilHumanRightsFront (Message Forwarded @Sep 1st 12.22am)
Evidence #3 - Police officially denied in press conference
At the early morning of 1st Sept , the Police has immediately hosted a press conference and clarified that protester in the photos were not police officers, and that the "pistol" is not firearms used by the police.
They further stated that the police force would never use petrol bombs; and criticized anyone for trying to damage the image of the police force, and strongly condemned others for spreading false accusation (Source).
Evidence #4 - Protesters have used air gun at Polices before
The following 3 cases are proof that air pistol is nothing new among HK protesters:
► Case I - Protester was seen using air pistol @Kowloon Bay Protest Aug 24 Protesters have been throwing bricks down from the overpass, fired steel balls with a slingshot, and one aimed a Glock17 look alike pistol at the polices. (Source)
► Case II - Protester was seen using air pistol @Tsim Sha Tsui Protest Aug 11 During an conflict prior of this rumor, it has been reported that a protester has been using air pistol against the police (Source).
► Case III - Protest supporter was caught bringing air pistol to protests before
Lau Hong, a former member of independence advocacy group Studentlocalism, was caught in possession of an air pistol and 1,000 plastic pellets near a protesting area back in Dec 2017. He told a court that he carried the air pistol out of fear that he might be attacked for supporting Hong Kong independence. (Source)
Evidence #5 - It doesn't make sense
If the undercover police officer really wanted to frame the protesters, why would he leave his police gun right at his side when there are dozens of reporters taking pictures of him? If they are that stupid, why didn't they have LED light from RUMOR #2 on them as well?
An "undercover police" who was "arresting" a protester at night was wearing exactly the same outfit as the protester who threw petrol bombs off the bridge earlier .
@31 AUG - Causeway Bay (around midnight)
What is this rumor about?
This following grid of photos is usually shared along with an accusation message (source):
The message will claim that the photos shows that the petrol bomb throwing protester (top two) is wearing identical outfit as an "undercover police" making an "arrest" in the evening (bottom two).
Why this rumor is almost certain to be fake?
Evidence #1 - The non-cropped photo has been found
The rumor image was later found to be a crop of this following image (Source):
It was only two cooperating protesters throwing petrol bombs on the street.
It was obviously not an undercover police making an arrest.
However, the fake rumor photo grid have been shared to far more audiences in comparison to the real image. Today, many people still thought this fake rumor is real.
Polices uses LED light to distinguish undercover officers from real protesters. Protesters who threw petrol bombs have LED light at their back, they must be polices.
@31 AUG - Causeway Bay (evening)
What is this rumor about?
In various incidents, protesters who threw petrol bombs are filmed with LED device at their back. As real polices and confirmed undercover officers have use LED devices to distinguish themselves before, those petrol bomb protesters must be undercover officers (Source).
@31 AUG - Causeway Bay
Note: The petrol bomb protester is hiding behind a trash container, riot polices are unable to see him at the start. Also the fire is stopping them from chasing forward.
@31 AUG - Causeway Bay
@21 SEP - Yuen Long
What made this rumor looks so real?
Multiple confirmed undercover officers are seen with LED light attached their hands.
Geared Riot polices have red LED light at the back of their helmets for identification.
Back in august, many people still strongly believed that HK Protesters were all very peaceful. It only make sense that violence and petrol bombs are done by undercover officers to smear HK Protesters.
Why is this rumor still almost certain is false?
Evidence #1 - LED light is too common
Stating the obvious here, anyone could have mimicked the LED light. Real protesters could have used LED light to identify themselves, or to intentionally frame the police.
Evidence #2 - Petrol bomb protesters was arrested on the spot by polices
Many protesters as been arrested and prosecuted for in procession or throwing petrol bombs. The following are a few examples:
► Case I - One day before the spread of this rumor, 44 male and 7 female has been arrested for in procession of weapons, gasoline or petrol bombs. @30 Sep (Source)
► Case II - 42 petrol bombs are found in a taxi and a SUV, both drivers have been arrested. @20 Oct Tai Po (Source)
► Case III - A protester has been caught right on the spot when he is throwing a petrol bomb at the streets @21 Oct - Mong Kok.
► Case IV - More than 140 petrol bombs are found in an apartment, 4 male and 1 female has been arrested. @5 Nov Wan Chai (Source)
Evidence #3 - There just way too many petrol bombs being thrown
After November, so many petrol bombs have thrown. It is not possible that they are all undercover officers. Various international journalist have interviewed many radical protesters and it is impossible for them to be all undercover polices (Learn more).
@13 Nov - Chinese University: Petrol bomb production line
@19 Nov -Mong Kok: Hundreds of petrol bombs as been thrown by groups of protesters
@28 Nov - Polytechnic University: More than 3000 petrol bombs and chemicals found
What is the Conclusion?
There is no solid evidence to support the protester's
accusation, merely disinformation.
We also recommend the following reads:
The New York Times - Fred Chan Ho-fai: A Hong Kong Protester’s Tactic: Get the Police to Hit You
South China Morning Post - Linda Lew: Hong Kong protests and ‘fake news’: in the psychological war for hearts and minds, disinformation becomes a weapon used by both sides