Crowd Reacts Violently After Elderly Woman Harassed

March 30, 2010 2:47 am Last Updated: March 30, 2010 12:32 pm

In the evening of March 26 at a farmers' market in Beicang Village of Beishi District, Kunming City, Yunnan Province, Municipal Administrators ("Chengguan" in Chinese[1] ) overturned the stand of an elderly female vendor, resulting in her severe injury and a mass protest by people nearby. Many police cars were overturned and two were set on fire. The conflict between the people and the police continued until 1 or 2 a.m.

The conflict began around 7:30 p.m. as the city workers were trying to inspect stands at the entrance to a farmers' market.

Anger Erupts after Woman Fined

A villager, Mr. Li, witnessed part of the incident and told a reporter: “I heard from a store owner that an elderly woman had set up a stand at the entrance of the farmer’s market. The Chengguan staff fined her 200 yuan (US$35). The woman only had 150 yuan but the Chengguan staff did not accept it. Then one of the Chengguan staff told the woman something, and she kneeled down. But they kept asking her for 200 yuan. As she tried to leave, the Chengguan staff overturned her cart. She fell on the ground and could not move."

"People nearby were very angry. They gathered around the Chengguan staff, who were hiding in a van. Gradually more and more villagers arrived leading some to say there were hundreds and others that there were thousands of villagers. Soon after, policemen and more Chengguan staff arrived and set up road blocks on site, but people did not leave."

Mr. Li continued, “I arrived there around 10 p.m. I saw many people throwing stones at a vehicle. I heard the Chengguan staff were in the vehicle; They deserve it.”

“Many people threw stones at the vehicle. Some policemen were there to maintain order, but they could not control the situation. People were so angry.”

“The police could not maintain order. The vehicle’s windows were all smashed. The violence could have caused several deaths if it had continued. Then the special police force arrived with shields. The vehicle left quickly. Many people chased it and threw stones at it. It was a mess.”

Mr. Li said four or five hundred people were arrested. The Yunnan Xingxi Daily reported that dozens were handcuffed and placed into police cars. Some media reported the woman had been sent to the hospital, but, since her whereabouts are currently unknown, people believe she has died.

Not the First Instance of Violence

Mr. Li said it is not the first time Chengguan staff in Kunming City have been involved in violence, but that is has become more frequent since they started patrolling the farmers’ markets.

Many of the farmers at the market are otherwise unemployed and depend on a meager income to subsist.

A young man who lives nearby told the reporter: “I heard the conflict was very serious. The Chengguan staff are like robbers. People hate them…I met them before and I do not know how to describe them. Many people hold the same view. I hope your media can expose the truth and get some attention from the government. The Chengguan staff uses violence to carry out the law. We taxpayers think they are so despicable.”

[1] City Administrators (Chengguan): Chengguan staff work for the city administration agency of cities in Mainland China. Their responsibilities include sanitation control, environmental monitoring, identifying illegally licensed vehicles and construction, etc. However, they are notorious for using violence, overcharging people, confiscating people’s properties and even robbing people.

Read the original Chinese article.