Urban Police in China Beat Vendor, Sparking Protest

The “chengguan,” a type of municipal police, have claimed another victim in China. A street vendor in Kunming City in Yunnan Province was severely beaten on Sept. 3 by a group of these urban police and is listed in critical condition at a local hospital.

According to a report in Yunnan Xinxibao (Yunnan Info Daily), the vendor, Mr. Duan, had attempted to come to the aid of a female vendor who was holding a baby in her arms. At about 11 p.m. the female vendor was hit by the black-garbed police, resulting in the baby’s nose being bruised and starting to bleed during the conflict.

As Duan came forward to stop them, he ended up being attacked by 7 or 8 policemen with steel pipes and clubs. When he passed out and fell down to the ground with blood all over his face, the police hurriedly left the scene.

Chengguan is short for City Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureau. This police force is established in every city in mainland China and is said to be responsible for non-criminal urban management, including patrolling for unlicensed street vendors.

Though the agency is supposed to protect the public, beatings by chengguan have become so pervasive that being called “chengguan” implies a person is a bully. There have been a number of recent incidents involving beatings that have sparked riots.

In this case also the chengguan’s violence sparked a violent response. According to the video posted on the Internet by a witness, a couple of furious residents smashed the windows of their patrol vehicle. About one hundred other street vendors followed the police to the Huguo Police Station and demanded an explanation.

“The chengguan used steel pipe and clubs instead of their hands to hit that street vendor. After he was beaten to the ground, 7 or 8 chengguan even stomped on his body,” said a furious witness.

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