Video of Hong Kong police officer gently dissuading protesters goes viral

Police Chief Inspector Sean Lin speaking to the media on Aug 21 on how he persuaded protesters who surrounded the Ma On Shan Police Station on Aug 5 to leave peacefully.
Police Chief Inspector Sean Lin speaking to the media on Aug 21 on how he persuaded protesters who surrounded the Ma On Shan Police Station on Aug 5 to leave peacefully.PHOTO: XINHUA

HONG KONG (XINHUA) - The video of a police officer talking gently through a loudspeaker to dissuade a raucous crowd from besieging his police station has gone viral on social media.

Speaking in a gentle and compassionate voice, the police officer patiently explained in great detail to protesters the potential penalties they could face for their actions, according to the video of about two minutes.

"Look at your phone contacts. If you get jailed for unlawful assembly, you will lose contact of all those people for five years. Add another 10 years if you commit criminal vandalism. And if you get convicted of riot, you will lose 25 years of your life. Think about how much time it is," Chief Inspector Sean Lin, 47, said in the video.

Unaffected by laser beams flashing on his face, Mr Lin spoke for more than half an hour from a balcony of the police building on the night of Aug 5.

"To persuade young people, you need to care for them like a parent cares for his own children, while using the words they can relate to," Mr Lin said at a media conference on Wednesday (Aug 21).

He said that, to his relief, the protesters gradually took his advice and started to leave. By the time reinforcement came, the crowd had already dispersed.

"We could have charged at the protesters and make a lot of arrests. But we decided to talk to them first, to help them realise what they are doing and think about whether it's worth it," he said.

He said that on that night, young protesters had surrounded the Ma On Shan Police Station, aiming laser beams at the eyes of officers and throwing glass bottles into the complex.

 
 
 
 

The video, which was first released on Facebook by the Hong Kong Police Force on Aug 17, gained more than 415,000 views in less than a week and also went viral on Chinese social media site Weibo, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Internet users also left numerous comments, praising Mr Lin and supporting Hong Kong police.

Mr Lin has been with the police force since 1996. He also has 18 years of training in negotiation under his belt and took part in more than 100 negotiating missions to help free hostages and dissuade people from committing suicides.

Also an award-winning toastmaster, Mr Lin said he hopes the police can try persuasion more in dispersing crowds that are not so confrontational.

Listening is the key to successful negotiation. "I hope we can all listen to what the young people have to say and restore peace and stability together," Mr Lin said.