Police disperse mob stirred by king insult
Police and soldiers on the Thai resort island of Phuket dispersed a mob of several hundred people seeking a confrontation with a man they believed insulted the country’s king, who died this week. Video shot Friday evening shows the crowd blocking the road outside a soy milk shop and waving placards with slurs such as “buffalo,” a local slang word for stupidity. Some shouted for the man to come out.
One man in the rowdy crowd yelled, “If you don’t love the king, who else would you love in this land?” as others argued with officers blocking the entrance to the shop. King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death Thursday after 70 years on the throne has sparked a national outpouring of grief. Police and a community leader wielding a megaphone dispersed the crowd by leading them to a local police station to lay a complaint.
Thai media reported that the crowd’s anger stemmed from online comments that were made by the man long before the king’s death. Thailand has draconian lese majeste laws that impose stiff prison sentences for actions or writings regarded as derogatory toward the monarch or his family. Phuket police commander Theerapol Thipcharoen said the public “came out to express their love for the king and weren’t happy for anyone to disrespect him.” “But they were not violent and they knew it would be inappropriate, especially in the circumstance,” he said.