HONG KONG – After tear gas and rubber bullets failed to stop more than two months of rallies, Hong Kong police Monday unveiled water cannon trucks as a new way to combat pro-democracy protesters.
The brand-new vehicles, complete with real-time surveillance cameras and multiple spray nozzles, were wheeled out after police clashed with demonstrators at nearly a dozen locations Sunday.
They demonstrated jets of water from the trucks on several dummy torsos placed at different distances from the vehicles.
Hong Kong has reportedly ordered three of the vehicles at a cost of 27 million Hong Kong dollars ($3.4 million), though police declined to confirm the exact price.
Police will only use the trucks in the event of a “large-scale public disturbance” leading to “casualties, property being destroyed wantonly, or public order and public safety coming under grave threat,” Senior Superintendent Chan Kin-kwok told lawmakers.
The vehicles are “one of our options for our use of force or special tactics,” he added during the Monday presentation.
Pro-democracy lawmakers attended the presentation holding signs that read “HK Police Murderers” and quarrelled with pro-Beijing lawmakers, who praised the police for their response to the demonstrations.
“We saw recently that the police’s control of their emotions is extremely poor,” said Lam Cheuk-ting, who accused police of having “abused their power to attack many protesters who aren’t resisting.”