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6 in custody over brawls after vendor initiative turns sour

SIX people were in custody for inciting brawls after a protest on Dongxin Road over an incident involving urban management officers and vendors that left four people injured, Putuo District police said yesterday.

The protesters stopped four urban management vehicles seeking a resolution to the alleged violence on June 29.

Liao Haixia, leader of the protesters, said she was beaten up, together with her daughter and nephew, by a squad dressed in camouflage uniforms over street vending, China Youth Daily reported.

Officials said they were still investigating the dispute.

The protest attracted hundreds of onlookers and caused a traffic jam on Dongxin Road. Some vendors took the chance to disturb social order, police said, and six were detained.

A squad of more than 70 dressed in camouflage was conducting a crackdown on unlicensed vendors on Dongxin Road about 5:30pm on Monday, following urban management officers, said Hou Dongmei of Putuo's urban management office.

As Liao, an unlicensed vendor, and her family were trying to move their goods home, more than 10 urban management vehicles swooped. Dozens of people in camouflage jumped out of the last vehicle and began to confiscate the family goods.

After Liao refused to cooperate, the men started to hit her with steel rods wrapped in rubber strips, Xiang Limin, Liao's daughter, told China Youth Daily.

Xiang's cousin suffered a broken nose while she herself was bruised, Xiang said. An uncle received an eye injury.

Hou said squad members in camouflage were not urban management officers. They were hired to help control vendors in the lead-up to World Expo.

Dongxin Road was one of the major targets because a number of vendors have long occupied the small street and caused noise, traffic jams and pollution, Hou said.

There were three squads with more than 100 people, mostly migrant workers and veteran soldiers, said Hou.

All officers involved in the Monday incident were suspended from all posts and those responsible faced severe penalties, said Hou.

Hou said the vendors who suffered minor injuries were sent to hospital and the office had paid 2,000 yuan (US$293) in medical costs.


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