The politician, Wu Chi-wai, is the head of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, the city’s main opposition party. On June 12th, he was one of many thousands who surrounded the Legislative Building in Admiralty to stop the reading of a controversial extradition bill which would allow suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.
Video from that afternoon shows Wu standing alone between police and protesters. Unarmed he walks toward the line of police shouting, “I want to see your commander!”
Two tear gas canisters were fired in his direction but Wu continued walking forward, repeating his demand until he had reached the line of riot shields.
The stirring scene has been translated and shared on Twitter by journalist Wilfred Chan:
This is what courage looks like.
Hong Kong legislator Wu Chi-wai walks alone toward heavily-armed police firing tear gas grenades at protesters, bellowing "I want to see your commander!"
— wilfred chan (@wilfredchan) June 18, 2019
The commander that Wu wanted to see was Chief Superintendent Rupert Dover. An officer with a controversial reputation in Hong Kong, Dover is rumored to be the one that first ordered tear gas to be fired at protesters during the 2014 Umbrella Movement.
He did not meet with Wu. Video shows him standing off to the side.
In a radio interview afterward, Wu explained that he wanted to speak with the commander in order to negotiate with police to buy time for the crowd to disperse. He added that he didn’t expect to have tear gas shot at him and lost his temper a bit.
Normally “even-keeled” Wu exploded at Chief Executive Carrie Lam last month during a turbulent parliament session, shouting at her: “You are useless dead or alive, bitch!”
Here's an absolutely furious Wu Chi-wai being removed 👇 pic.twitter.com/CXq5EZ17Hj
— Tom Grundy (@tomgrundy) May 9, 2019
Many are celebrating Wu as a hero for making a stand against police Over the past week, a number of videos have gone viral online which appear to show police using excessive force against protesters during the June 12th chaos.
Here are just a few examples:
— Galileo Cheng (@galileocheng) June 12, 2019
— neverwalkalone (@khtjessie) June 12, 2019
— 香港加油 (@hk_addoil) June 12, 2019
While Hong Kong Police Commissioner Stephen Lo initially called what happened a “riot,” he stepped back from that characterization this Monday, clarifying that only a few of the demonstrators had been “rioting.”
Hongkongers are unsatisfied with this clarification and have called for a full account to be made of police brutality, asking why 150 rounds of tear gas were fired to subdue only a few “rioters.”