Protests against abusive law enforcement personnel flared into riots in two southern China cities last week, with mobs confronting armed police and smashing police vehicles, according to residents.
In Chengdu in Sichuan province, street mobs besieged authorities who mistreated a street vendor, while in Huaiji in Guangdong province, onlookers attacked police officers after police vehicles involved in a car chase hit two bystanders.
A mob of street vendors, students, and local residents surrounded several urban management officers in the Sichuan capital on Friday, after they beat a sugarcane seller and his three-year-old child in the street.
They were angry at the urban management officers’ treatment of the vendors, according to a college student.
“They get a salary from the government, but they abuse their power by attacking vendors. I am infuriated by this,” he said.
China’s urban management officers are a parapolice force that deals with low-level crime and disorder, including clearing away unlicensed street vendors. But some complain that the officers verbally and physically abuse street vendors in the process.
When police officers came to the aid of the urban management officers, they were confronted by the mob.
Photos of the riot posted online showed a large mob surrounding several police vehicles and a car that had been overturned.
The confrontation lasted about two hours before police fled the scene with the urban management officers.
Another Chengdu resident said, “The urban management officers should exercise their power responsibly, maintaining civilized language and dignified conduct.”
Staff reached by telephone on Monday at the Chengdu Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureau, which oversees urban management officers, declined to discuss the incident.
“No, I cannot reveal anything to you now, as the incident is still under investigation,” he said.
In the other incident, a police car hit two bystanders while pursuing a motorcyclist without a valid license plate in Huaiji, enraging hundreds and igniting a riot.
When the onlookers forced the police car to a halt, police officers got out of the vehicle and attacked an old man, making the crowd more furious, reports said.
The crowd attacked the officers and smashed their car and other police cars at the scene.
Authorities detained more than a dozen protesters.
A police officer with Huaiji county public security bureau confirmed the incident on Monday.
“Yes, it was serious. The mob blocked the road for several hours, smashing our cars.”
“We went to the scene to ask them to leave, but they didn’t obey,” the officer said.
Several protesters were wounded in the incident, local residents said.
Reported by Jiang Pei for RFA’s Mandarin service. Translated by Ping Chen. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.