Updated: Police use "less lethal" weaponry against protesters in Hong Kong
Updated July 3rd 2020 to include content about PepperBall weapons.
As thousands of protesters in Hong Kong gather to protest the proposed “Extradition Bill”, police have used “less lethal” weaponry produced by the company American company Amtec Less Lethal Systems. A tweet posted on June 12th shows a cartridge clearly labelled “ALS – 1202 – Rubber Rocket”. According to the ALS website, the 1202 cartridge is a 12 guage “high velocity rubber finned projectile that is designed to be direct fired, producing blunt trauma and pain compliance.” It has a range of around 120 feet.
AmTec Less Lethal Systems (ALS) produces a wide range of “less lethal” weapons and equipment designed for use by police, law enforcement, security, prison and military personnel in its factory in Florida, USA. War Resisters’ International published a full profile on Amtec Less Lethal Systems in March 2019 – this can be found here: https://www.wri-irg.org/en/story/2019/amtec-less-lethal-systems
RiotID - a civic media project helping people identify, monitor and record the use of riot control against civilians - identified another weapon as an N225 Rubber Bursting CS grenade, produced by the British company Chemring Countermeasures Ltd, part of the Chemring Group. After large amounts of tear gas was used against protesters in Hong Kong in 2014, Chemring confirmed they were a long-term supplier of tear gas. In 2015 the British government granted an open export license, allowing Chemring to supply unlimited amounts of tear gas to Hong Kong for five years.
A media company posted another photo on twitter which showed police armed with shotguns labelled “less lethal”, and could be used to fire a range of different types of ammunition. Some companies (such as Wilson Combat) produce similar looking weapons specifically for firing "less lethal" ammunition, but it is also possible to adapt standard shot guns.
As pro-democracy campaigners once again took to the streets of Hong Kong to protest the imminent new security laws, police responded with violent tactics and mass arrests. A number of photos and videos clearly show police armed with weapons made by the US company PepperBall, which produces a range of "less lethal" weaponry which use their propriety PepperBall "projectiles". The projectiles marketed on the PepperBall website come in two versions; a standard round ball, and a long range "XVR", which can be fired up to 150 feet. Both the standard balls and the XVR range come in a variety of options, containing different gases, irritants, marking paints and liquids. A "glass breaker" solid polymer option is also available.
In an image included on this Reuters article, a police officer is shown helping to pin a young person to the ground while brandishing a black and orange handgun clearly marked "PepperBall TCP". TCP stands for "Tactical Compact Pistol", and is marketed as giving the user "the ability to carry a multi-shot, non-lethal product on your belt". The TCP can be used with both t types of PepperBall ammunition. The TCP weapon can fire both the standard and the XVR ammunition.
Footage published on the Hong Kong Free Press youtube channel (from 2:03) on 2nd July 2020 shows a police officer aiming a weapon marked PepperBall that appears to be a PepperBall FTC, or Full Tactical Carbine. The FTC can carry up to 180 rounds and fire between 10 and 12 rounds per second.
Other footage posted on Twitter appears to show police officers in Hong Kong using PepperBall weapons.
In September 2019 the Hong Kong Free Press website carried an article accusing the Hong Kong police of using PepperBall's in confined spaces, and firing towards fleeing protesters. An image on the website shows a police officer aiming a weapon that appears visually similar to a PepperBall FTC towards a large crowd of people inside a building.