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In Hong Kong, dehumanizing language used by police could lead to worse violence targeting protesters

The Washington Post reports:

The riot police, dressed in green fatigues, advanced down a central city street. Some of the officers wore black masks, while others held shields or shotguns loaded with rubber bullets and tear-gas grenades.

As a few dozen protesters jeered, police fired back with their own insults.

“Remember, you are not a person, you are not even worthy as an animal!” an officer shouted. “You are not a person, you’re a cockroach!” Soon, police unleashed tear gas at the crowd from close range — one of almost 400 canisters fired on Saturday.

Derogatory language — with protesters terming officers dogs and gangsters, and police calling demonstrators subhuman and cockroaches — has become a hallmark of Hong Kong’s protests as clashes have escalated.

Police put up a massive show of force this past weekend— even against peaceful protesters — as authorities grow more determined to end the months-long unrest. Between Friday and Sunday, more than 300 people were arrested, according to police. On Sunday, a man armed with a knife attacked pro-democracy demonstrators and left three in critical condition, including one who had part of his ear bitten off.

In this deteriorating climate, the dehumanizing language employed by police is especially troubling, experts say, as it can be a precursor to more indiscriminate violence toward civilians. [Continue reading…]

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