Police are investigating the death of a watermelon seller in Chenzhou, Hunan province, who was allegedly killed by chengguan in a case that inspired furious protests both on the streets and online.
The BBC reports:
Deng Zhengjia, in his 50s, died on Wednesday in Chenzhou City, Hunan.
He was hit with a weight from a set of scales after a row erupted with chengguan officials, Xinhua news agency said, citing Mr Deng’s niece.
In a statement, the Linwu county government said patrollers found that Mr Deng and his wife Huang Xixi had “set up a watermelon stall in violation of the rules”.
An “altercation” arose after the law enforcers asked them to leave, and “the enforcers temporarily confiscated four of the watermelons, requesting that the couple sell their melons in an authorised location instead”.
The couple began “insulting” the officers when they encountered them again 50 minutes later, the statement said.
“The enforcers tried to reason with the couple, the dispute between the two sides became a physical conflict, and in the process Deng Zhengjia suddenly collapsed and died,” the statement said.
Protests on the streets of Chenzhou turned violent, with numerous photos being uploaded showing demonstrators having been beaten by the over 200 riot police who were on the scene.
Angry netizens criticised the chengguan officers and the government officials for their perceived coverup. According to the Southern Metro Daily, hackers attacked the official Linwu county government website, plastering the site with the message “What is unjust is doomed to destruction, we will take back our country!” (At the time of writing, the website is down.)
[Image via Weibo, SMD]