BEIJING (NYTIMES) - Twenty-two seconds of real-life police drama have riveted and divided many in China over police officers' powers to use force against irate residents - including a woman clutching an infant.
A video taken by an onlooker has spread online since Friday (Sept 1) , showing a woman in Shanghai arguing with an officer over a parking fine.
It is common for people in China to argue energetically with street-level police officers, especially over traffic fines. The recent confrontation has renewed debate about how far law enforcers should be allowed to push back.
In the video, the woman advances on the police officer, tussling with him while holding her child to her chest. The officer remonstrates her, and, after a momentary lull, she advances again, pushing and prodding him.
Then, 22 seconds into the video, as a colleague opens the door to a police vehicle, the officer suddenly slams the woman to the ground, sending the infant flying to the pavement. The officers wrestle the woman on the ground, initially oblivious to the child, who is helped by onlookers.
The confrontation has distilled two concerns close to the heart of many Chinese people: the crude, sometimes brutal, behaviour of police officers and other street-level law enforcers; and the treatment of children in a society where many parents have only one child. All the more striking, the scene took place in Shanghai, one of China's richest, most sophisticated cities.
By Saturday, millions in China had watched and dissected the video on social media, especially on Weibo, a microblogging service like Twitter, and on WeChat, where users often share images and opinions with friends.
But views were divided, and the discussion spilled onto Twitter, which is open in China only for users who have the software to bypass the censorship firewall.
Most comments on Weibo and Chinese news sites condemned the police officers for putting the child at risk of serious injury.
But some argued that the woman bore some responsibility for putting her child between herself and the officer.
By Friday evening, the city's Bureau of Public Security announced that the police officer who pushed the woman had been suspended.