A core group of radical protesters who led the violent siege of Hong Kong's legislature on Monday were willing to die for their cause as martyrs, according to SCMP.
Approximately ten 'diehards' with a 'bring it on' attitude had no qualms about facing police batons, rubber bullets or worse, as they broke into and trashed the Legislative Council building.
"The protesters at the front were willing to sacrifice themselves. They turned so violent, hoping police would use aggressive force against them or shoot them with rubber bullets or beanbag rounds," said SCMP's source, adding "If the individuals were badly injured or even killed, all the blame would have been placed on police so as to spark global condemnation, and eventually bring the whole administration down."
Hong Kong leadership expects the radical group to organize future protests in order to spark future clashes with the police that may lead to their desired outcome.
They were among the dozens of protesters against the government’s now-suspended extradition bill who had already been identified and would be the target of a police operation to arrest those responsible.
The Post was told that officers from the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau were also trying to identify those behind this group. -SCMP
Hong Kong police made their first arrest on Wednesday after searching for those who used makeshift battering rams to smash the glass in front of the legislature - many of whom were wearing masks to avoid identification.
The 31-year-old suspect faces charges including criminal damage and forcible entry.
Another source said police were trying to identify hundreds of protesters both inside and outside the Legco building during the 11-hour siege who dispersed when officers in riot gear moved in, using tear gas.
No one was arrested during the one-hour clearance operation, and those occupying the Legco chamber had already fled. -SCMP
According to SCMP's source, police will next turn their efforts to less violent protesters, whether or not they were involved in vandalism.
"They broke the law as they attended an unlawful assembly. If it is classified as a riot in future, they may also face the charge of taking part in riot," said the source.
The Monday siege of the Hong Kong Legislative Council made worldwide headlines, as mostly young protesters raged against an extradition bill which would have allowed the transfer of fugitives to mainland China and other places with which Hong Kong has no extradition arrangements.
“I understand why they’re angry”, say #HongKong residents of protesters. They also call the invasion of the legislature “foolish”, but they believe Carrie Lam’s lack of sincerity pushed them to desperation. pic.twitter.com/Sv6qRTmEIu— SCMP News (@SCMPNews) July 4, 2019
At 1pm, the protesters led by the 'kamikaze' core of radicals began using a metal cart and iron bars to break the building's glass as riot police stood by. After they finally broke in around 9pm, the protesters ransacked the building, spraying graffiti on the walls and tearing down political leaders' portraits.
Hong Kong's legislature building was reopened to media after it was stormed by protesters pic.twitter.com/TyP6wq99Na— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) July 3, 2019
Police forensics experts have collected thousands of pieces of evidence, including "face masks, goggles, helmets, bricks, stickers and fliers that the protesters had left behind," according to the report. Fingerprints and DNA evidence which has been recovered are being stored in a locked compound in their Wan Chai headquarters.
"Officers have also started the painstaking task of viewing video footage from surveillance cameras to identify the suspects," said one law enforcement source, adding that CCTV footage would also be studied.
He admitted it was a “very difficult task” as most of the protesters had helmets, face masks and goggles on to hide their identities, while some CCTV cameras at the Legco complex and nearby areas had been damaged or spray painted.
The source said investigators were likely to take months to gather all the evidence and complete their work.
According to the city’s railway operator, four surveillance cameras were sprayed with black paint at two exits of Admiralty MTR station in the early hours of Tuesday, when many of the dispersed protesters went home by train. -SCMP
A new protest is planned for Sunday according to the Straits Times.