Hong Kong police, embroiled in the 14th week of protests in the city, received a peculiar delivery Friday night: 100 boxes of pasta topped with chunks of raw, pink chicken.
Officers at Sheung Shui Police Station opened their catered meal boxes to find the uncooked meat, the South China Morning Post reported. No one ate the meal, and police quickly ordered food from other places, the newspaper said. A memo sent out to officers on Saturday described the incident but did not identify the supplier.
Sheung Shui, an area that borders mainland China, has been roiled by several large protests in recent weeks, with calls from local residents to "reclaim" the area from Chinese tourists and merchants. It was not immediately clear whether the raw chicken was the result of a genuine kitchen mistake or linked to the unrest in Sheung Shui.
Anti-police sentiment in Hong Kong has emerged as a lightning rod in the protests that have expanded beyond activists to include shopkeepers, civil servants and students.
Since concerns about a controversial extradition bill emerged in March, riot police have unleashed tear gas and fired water cannons and rubber bullets at demonstrators, 1,200 of whom have been detained on protest-related charges. The police response has spurred an increasingly violent reaction from protesters, with recent reports of activists setting fires on the street and throwing bricks at law enforcement personnel.
In July, a picture surfaced of a young female protester lying on the ground with blood streaming from her eye and what appeared to be a police-fired bean bag nearby. Hundreds swarmed Hong Kong's international airport with red-stained bandages over their eyes, chanting, "An eye for an eye!" In August, officers were caught on camera storming subway cars and hitting protesters with batons, prompting calls on social media for the removal of the force under the hashtag #AbolishHKPF.
Earlier this week, Hong Kong's leader, Carrie Lam, said she would withdraw the extradition bill that sparked the unrest, but protesters said it was "too little, too late." Among the five demands being made by protesters is an independent investigation into the government's response to the unrest, including the police's use of force.
Michael Tien, a pro-Beijing lawmaker, said in The Washington Post's report on Lam's decision that tensions between police and the public have taken over as the central driving force of the protests.
"The focus since the beginning of July has completely shifted now to the confrontation between police and rioters and how the public perceives it," he said. "The public is totally polarized, but it is no longer about the extradition bill."
Tien added that if grievances between the police and the public are not addressed, "people are going to be carrying around this hatred for many years."
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