Residents Take to Streets After Man Reported Killed (Updated)
Thousands of people reportedly took to the streets in Luzhou, Sichuan to protest the death of a truck driver, apparently at the hands of police [See Update below]. Reuters reports:
Pictures and video on China’s popular microblogging site Sina Weibo showed an apparently dead man sprawled out on the ground next to a truck as police held back onlookers.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the photos and calls seeking comment from the Luzhou government in Sichuan province went unanswered.
China’s Communist Party has been trying to keep a lid on protests ahead of a meeting in Beijing next month which will usher in a new generation of leaders.
Residents contacted by telephone said they had heard reports that traffic policemen had beaten a truck driver to death after an unspecified dispute.
“People are very angry about this and are out on the streets to show their anger,” said one resident of the Hongxingcun neighborhood where the unrest was focused. He did not witness the incident and declined to give his name.
Global Times added more details and quoted an official who gave an alternate explanation for the man’s death:
“Please do not believe the rumors. The driver died of an acute disease during the law enforcement process when he was told by the traffic police to remove his truck from the middle of a road. We promise to investigate the case and provide people the truth,” the district head was quoted by a witness as saying to the crowd with a loudspeaker.
Pictures and video footage of the riot were widely circulated on Sina Weibo along with claims that three traffic police officers had beaten a truck driver to death in a dispute near a farmer’s market in Luzhou, Sichuan Province. At least four patrol cars were turned over and set on fire during the unrest. Enraged crowds were seen throwing rocks and bottles at the police, according to online threads.
Photos have been widely posted on Weibo including this photo reposted by Voice of America:
Tea Leaf Nation has gathered more photos, together with purported eyewitness comments and netizen
commentary from Sina Weibo.
Update: South China Morning Post has reported (via Beijing Cream) that the riots in Luzhou may have been sparked by a rumor, and eyewitnesses say the truck driver did in fact appear to suffer a heart attack or other critical illness.