Principal reporting by Lumi Lintunen, with additional reporting by Daiyu Tang (the Girl Behind the Lens)
On the 26th March 2022 citizens of Hathian rallied in a show of high passion and anger against alleged police brutality of the HPD. Set against the smouldering hulk of the mysteriously burnt social services building the crowd started to form with placards and banners bearing anti-police messages. As the crowd formed, the Observer’s roving live reporter, Lumi Lintunen, was present to bring you the latest on the developing situation later joined by the investigate photojournalist GBTL.
The protesters were a mixed bunch, reflecting the diversity of Hathian’s citizens. From sharply dressed suits to the outfits of students, the makeup of the people reflected the common belief that there was Police injustice in the City. GBTL captured a number of the group as they milled around or started to actively participate in the unfolding events.
Waving banners decrying police brutality as well as a selection of expletives that expressed the protester’s strong views, they listened to speeches from the balcony of the Arcade. Our reporter Lumi, captured the following striking image of citizens Asia Banu and Matthew Dune whipping up the crowd.
As the crowd grew angrier, it became apparent that one individual, a female dressed up in some sort of stripper mimicry of a police officer was determined to get hands on with an Officer. Having pursued the officer down the street, the manic stripper appeared to cause serious harm to the female officer and it wasn’t until reinforcements showed up that she was finally stopped by the interjection of an Officer with shield and baton who dispensed blow after blow onto the woman; an action that caused the crowd to grow in anger.
While the level of violence meted out by the Officer in riot gear seemed to be beyond the level need to pacify a small female, it should be noted that the GBTL team was able to capture the injuries of the female officer and it does beg the question whether a cycle of provocation and violence is really in the best interests of the City. If violence is met with violence then it is likely that the authorities will be unwilling to commit to even discuss any demands from the Citizenry as they can point to countless incidents of criminality, some of which may have been badged as legitimate protest.
We also observed one officer trying to at least use a lower degree of violence to try and apprehend the woman and while he was ultimately unsuccessful, if all officers practiced a level of restraint then they as well could contribute to a reduction in the cycle of violence…
As readers will be familiar, the GBTL team continues to believe that corruption stalks the upper echelons of the HPD, but we cannot condone violence in order to achieve a end. When officers end up injured, it just invites the cycle to continue, something protest leaders like Matthew and Asia should consider if they choose to continue to unleash a mob.
As the situation escalated, it became apparent that the HPD were retreating and this enabled the crowd to feel braver and push forward to outside the Gein restaurant, where owner Jessica Daiton could be seen trying to protect her property.
The mood in the crowd was turning ugly and it was no surprise that others in the crowd had resorted to more violence. As rocks started to sail overhead GBTL captured who she thought had been throwing rocks which turned out to be quite the handsome man using whatever he could to try and force the officers back.
With the officers retreating it was likely only a matter of time before they returned in force and as the level of anger built, both Lumi and GBTL needed to find better positions in order to stay safe against a backdrop of gunshots, that appeared to be beanbag rounds, but we couldn’t be sure. A picture taking earlier in the protest shows one of the officers potentially involved in this ‘less than lethal’ action:
Our experienced reporter Lumi had already anticipated, correctly, that where stones fly, gunshots follow and therefore filtered herself towards safety. Meanwhile GBTL found herself climbing the roof of the Gein and taking photos from this higher and hopefully safer vantage point. This proved to be a fortuitous decision as within a few minutes, an HPD officer, later identified as the Officer involved in beating the stripper drove their police cruiser through the Gein patio sending chairs, tables and other detritus flying into the protesters. GBTL had been standing there a minute or so ago!
As the scene rapidly went to hell, your reporters heard further gunshots, but they couldn’t be sure whether they were from the crowd or the police… At this point it was becoming too unsafe and we decided to call it a day, but not before we were caught in the fiery end to the protest, where an unseen protester managed to throw a molotov cocktail directly onto the Police Cruiser, causing it to combust. This action has probably not only galvanised a strong police response in the future, it also risked the life of an injured protester who had been knocked down or shot next to the Cruiser. As the flames rose and the heat, even on the Gein roof became hard, GBTL snapped this picture of the injured man who we are assured was dragged to safety by other protesters… His condition is currently unknown, but the Observer would welcome a chance to interview him if he wishes to get in touch.
A source at HPD indicates that an APB has been filed for the protester who was captured assaulting the female Officer. It appears she had escaped in the confusion of the police withdrawal. Why the woman attacked the officer in the first place, especially dressed up in a police outfit is a question the team will try and find out if we manage to interview the woman before the HPD get to her. If you’re reading… contact us!
Follow our reporter Lumi Lintunen live: https://twitter.com/PrincessSnowCD/
For Hints / Tips / Reports please contact Lumi Lintunen ((Nicolina Zapedzki)) or Daiyu Tang ((Faithtang resident)) through the Observer website ((via IM))