Organizers of Sewol Protest To Be Arrested

D-Bo , April 20, 2015, 10:11 a.m.


Police have filed a lawsuit against the organisers of the ferry Sewol ceremony and attempt to hold them accountable for the actions of violent protestors after the ceremony, a police spokesman said.  Thousands of people met at Seoul Plaza late Saturday after a ceremony to mark the first anniversary of the sinking of the ferry Sewol that claimed 304 lives off the southwest coast.

The ceremony was peaceful with thousands of people lighting candles in unity as a reminder to never forget and to usher a future that is safer for the next generation. After the official proceedings, thousands of demonstrators then tried to march to the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae where they hoped to demand a more vigorous government response to the disaster.

More than 13,000 police blocked the route using hundreds of trucks and other vehicles to seal off the roads nearby. Police stood in lines and used large shields to push marchers back. Marchers turned their backs on police and pushed against their shields.

Some demonstrators sprayed Police with fire extinguishers while footage from the event shows police using water canons, pepper spray and gas canisters on the marchers. Several police cars were overturned by groups of protestors.

A police spokesman alleges that 74 police officers were wounded, three of them seriously, 72 police vehicles were damaged and 368 police cameras, walkie-talkies and other equipment were either damaged or stolen.  Police seek financial compensation for damage caused and to charge violent protestors.

“We will run after those who organized the violent rally and acted violently so they could be subjected to legal punishment,” a spokesman for the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said in a news conference. However, Jun Michael Park alleges that police misused pepper spray and has posted video evidence on YouTube.

“A police officer fires pepper spray from arm’s distance at protesters and the photojournalist during a Sewol ferry protest in downtown Seoul. Codes of Police Equipment Usages mandate that pepper spray must be used from a distance farther than 1 meter and it must not be directed at a persons face,” Park said. Police rounded up 100 violent demonstrators, including 20 members of the bereaved families of the ferry sinking.

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