Police Change Protest Tactics, Removing Container Walls

Riot police and young protesters clashed again near Din Daeng even after police removed the containers blocking the street on Saturday.

Officers moved containers walls from the Vibhavadi Road inbound a kilometer away to an area closer to the 1st Infantry Regiment, where Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha resides, changing their tactics to deal with protesters after several days of violent confrontations.

After the barrier was moved on Saturday night, demonstrators made their way up Vibhavadi Road unimpeded.

But the police fired rubber bullets and water cannons to drive them back to Din Daeng and establish a defensive line outside the Veterans General Hospital.

Police chief Suwat Chaengyodsuk said earlier on Saturday that security forces would change their strategy to handle protesters in several locations.

He said officers should focus on maintaining order on major roads and preventing arson. Besides, they should avoid entering residential properties, communities, and small sois.

Din Daeng and the adjacent Victory Monument are key locations for police plans’ changes.

Containers walls used to block access to Vibhavadi Road would also be removed, Pol Gen Suwat added.

“We are not defending anyone. We’re just protecting public properties,” he went on.

Pol Gen Suwat also said that incidents involving police officers would be investigated. He referred to an officer captured on camera while shooting a young man at point-blank range.

The police chief also urged people to empathize with officers, arguing that they have been under pressure and have to confront teenagers using different types of weapons.

The announcement came after residents at Din Daeng flats complex sent a letter to the National Police Office and the prime minister complaining about the handling of the protests.

In the letter that mentioned how the situation had affected their lives, at least 1,000 names of affected people were included.

Police and anti-government protesters have clashed in Din Daeng for seven nights in a row.

Demonstrators have used fireworks, marbles, catapults, projectiles and laser beams while the police have fired water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets.

Aside from congested traffic, clashes pose a danger to patients and medical personnel in nearby hospitals.

Residents also complained about the “hot pursuit,” claiming that the police indiscriminately fired rubber bullets at nearby flats where protesters were reportedly hiding. Passers-by had also been affected, they added.