In Hong Kong, a 12-year-old boy has been charged with damaging property, becoming the youngest protester to be charged since the ongoing protests began in June.
The unnamed youngster was found guilty over his actions on Oct. 3, according to Hong Kong outlet Stand News.
The boy spray-painted “damn rogue cops and their families” on the wall of Mong Kok Police station, and “divine punishment, free HK” on the wall outside the Prince Edward Station, a metro station located in Mong Kok.
An unnamed police officer saw the boy’s actions and followed him home. The youngster was arrested the following day while he was on his way to school. He was held overnight at a police station before being released on bail.
Police then conducted a search of the boy’s home, and found the spray paint can that he used and the clothing he wore when he committed the offense.
During a court hearing at the West Kowloon Magistrates Courts, the boy’s lawyer pleaded for leniency, saying that the youngster was influenced by others, and he did not think rationally and had committed the offense on impulse.
The lawyer added that the boy was remorseful, and the youngster had not even taken part in any outdoor activities since his arrest, including playing basketball.
The boy pleaded guilty and was released on bail following the court hearing. According to Stand News, he will be sentenced on Dec. 19.
In a press conference on Nov. 18, the police announced that it had arrested 4,491 people since June on suspicion of crimes such as rioting, having offensive weapons, and arson. The ages of those arrested ranged from 11 to 83 years old.
On Oct. 10 Mathew Cheung, Hong Kong’s chief secretary, stated that the number of arrests since June topped 2,379, among which were 750 under the age of 18.
The boy’s conviction comes as Hong Kong holds major elections on Nov. 24, with 1,090 candidates competing for 452 positions in the city’s 18 district councils.
The elections are considered a de facto referendum on the current pro-Beijing city government headed by Carrie Lam.
The Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI), in a November survey of 1,016 people, showed that Lam’s rating dropped to a record low of 19.5 points, down from 44.7 points registered at the end of May.
The day before the elections, over 100 people, including many parents, took to the streets in a march in Kowloon Tong, calling on Hong Kong police to stop using tear gas, according to Hong Kong media. The protesters expressed concerns the tear gas was putting their children’s health at risk.
Hong Kong police fired at least 9,362 rounds of tear gas from June to Nov. 13.