Thousands of residents in a southern Chinese city took to the streets, smashing and flipping over police vehicles and storming a police station to protest the construction of a garbage incinerator in their neighborhood. An ensuing conflict with police led to beatings and arrests, as reported April 7 by Radio Free Asia.
On April 6, residents in the city of Luoding, Guangdong Province, gathered on the streets around a cement factory owned by China Resources to protest the incinerator project. Holding banners, the demonstrators accused the company of colluding with local authorities to push the construction through.
Police soon arrived to disperse the crowds, using tear gas and pepper spray. During the brawl, angry locals smashed the windshields of police cars and some vehicles were even flipped over. The gate to the cement factory was destroyed, and a throng of protesters ran into and then occupied the nearby police station.
Twenty people were arrested and an unknown number injured.
Despite this, the protest continued through to following day, as reported on the website of Oriental Daily, a Hong Kong newspaper.
“Yesterday, [the police] beat up children. A little girl was beaten. People are angry,” a Luoding resident told RFA in an interview. “When the mayor appeared, he said that he would ask for more police reinforcements to arrest and beat more people.”
Another resident said that no environmental evaluation had been made before China Resources, a powerful state-owned conglomerate, began construction of the incinerator less than two miles outside the city.
Locals mainly objected to the pollution that they anticipated the incinerator would produce.
On April 8, Sina, a mainland Chinese news outlet, reported that the mayor of Luoding had told the citizens that the construction would be put on hold.
“We want the construction scrapped entirely, not put on hold,” a local villager said according to Sina, a major Chinese news portal. “We can’t let the toxic fumes from the burning garbage poison our children.”