10 accused of inciting clashes with police in Pingdu; 34 hurt
Public security authorities have accused 10 people of assaulting police officers and damaging cars during an incident that injured 34 people in Shandong province in early October, Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday.
The suspects, all unemployed from the city of Pingdu, were detained, according to the report, which said they face charges of obstructing police, intentional injury, inciting crowds to disrupt public order and provoking trouble.
The move comes after violence in Pingdu on Oct 5 and 6, when hundreds of people gathered under the banner of “military veterans”, Xinhua said. It added that the main suspects have complex backgrounds, and some have criminal records for “robbery, fraud, drug abuse and picking a quarrel”.
Police said their investigation found that the suspects had spoken on the phone and in WeChat messages, from Sept 30 to Oct 4, about a plan to travel to Beijing to launch an illegal petition during the National Day holiday, the Xinhua report said, without elaborating on the reason for the petition.
When the Pingdu government intervened, members of the group claimed they had been beaten by judicial officials. They fabricated information and released fake videos in WeChat groups to attract public attention, according to Xinhua.
Between the early hours of Oct 5 and noon the next day, some 300 people from more than six regions, including Anhui, Jiangsu, Henan and Liaoning provinces, converged on a city square in Pingdu, where they held banners and shouted slogans, resulting in major traffic disruption, the report said.
The suspects are also accused of hiring others to take 105 wooden sticks, 60 sledgehammers, 45 pickaxes and 16 drypowder fire extinguishers to the square.
During the incident, government and Party officials were sent to talk with demonstrators and listened to their appeals, during which the chief suspects asked for economic compensation and refused to leave, Xinhua said.
On Oct 6, the 10 suspects led a group of 60 people with wooden sticks and fire extinguishers in a confrontation with police, firing dry power that caused several officers to experience breathing difficulties. The group also assaulted officers and smashed four police vehicles, the report said.
The violence lasted for 11 minutes, resulting in injuries to 34 police officers and citizens. Among the casualties were two police officers from Qingdao, who suffered rib fractures and intracranial bleeding.
According to the Ministry of Public Security, the violence seriously affected social order and people’s livelihoods, causing 104 shopping malls and supermarkets to close their doors, and forcing 960 buses to adjust their routes, resulting in economic losses of up to 8.2 million yuan ($1.19 million), Xinhua reported.
“This incident was an organized, planned and premeditated violent crime that seriously harmed people’s human rights, endangered public safety and disrupted social order. It had an extremely bad social impact,” the ministry was quoted as saying in the report.
It urged citizens to obey the law and express petitions through legal and reasonable means. Police will resolutely crack down on illegal behaviors to maintain social order and guarantee the safety of lives and property, it said.