Thousands of riot police dispersed the massive protest in Shishou City in China’s Hubei Province, according to witness report.
According to a witness, close to 10,000 armed police entered the city at 4:45 a.m. on June 21 and blocked the streets around Yonglong Hotel, the center of the protest scene. Police shouted through loudspeakers to about 10,000 protesters surrounding the hotel and demanded the crowd leave the site immediately. The site was cleared at around 8 a.m.. No major clash occurred, but some protesters were injured and arrested. The crowd smashed a fire truck and two police squirt vehicles.
The protest was sparked by the mysterious death of Tu Yuangao, the hotel’s 24-year-old chef. Many local residents believe the government-run hotel is involved in corruption and drug trafficking. Tu’s body fell from the third floor of the hotel on June 17. Though the authorizes reported Tu’s death as suicide, presenting a death note as evidence, Tu’s family and other local residents suspect that Tu died of torture and murder.
Some witnesses revealed in their blogs that no blood stain was found on the ground where Tu’s body fell, and that Tu’s body was already cold the minute it hit the ground. Witnesses also reported seeing blood clots around Tu’s mouth, nose and ears as well as major wounds in the lower part of his body.
The deceased’s family refused to hand the body to the police for cremation, and placed the body in the hotel on ice. When the police sent a hearse to remove the body around 1 a.m. on June 19, they found 2,000 people already gathered around the hotel to prevent their access. The protest later escalated with reportedly over 70,000 people in the street. Riot police used squirt and tear gas to disperse the crowd, while the protesters threw bricks and bottles at the police and turned over the hearse and police vehicles.
After the police action on June 21 morning, Tu’s body was taken by the police, and Tu’s family members are missing. According to Chinese official media, the body was already sent to a funeral house for cremation.
Most local residents our report contacted refused to comment on the incident.
On June 20 midnight, the local government’s website was defaced by hackers with sentences that called for truths. The website is now restored after a brief close-up.