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Brick thrower remains defiant

A retired teacher, who sparked nationwide controversy - and a lot of support - by throwing bricks at vehicles that ran red lights on a pedestrian crossing, yesterday defended his action, saying he was protecting pedestrians.

Yan Zhengping, 74, became an Internet sensation after he lobbed bricks at 14 cars at the intersection over a period of more than three hours late last Thursday. A large crowd saw his feat and cheered him on in Lanzhou, capital of northwest China's Gansu Province.

"I know it was illegal, but I had to do it to raise awareness on the safety of pedestrians," said Yan.

Already a road-safety campaigner, he was prompted to further action after a young man was killed on a pedestrian crossing by a speeding motorist in an illegal drag race in the downtown area of eastern Hangzhou City. The driver has been charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Earlier this month in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, police detained an allegedly drunk driver who lost control of his vehicle, leading to the deaths of five people, including a pregnant woman.

Public anger

Both accidents have caused widespread public anger at the perceived poor driving in many Chinese cities.

Police in Lanzhou said six people had been killed on pedestrian walkways in the first six months of this year.

Yan said he just wanted to remind motorists to think of pedestrians.

Hundreds of local residents applauded him last Thursday and two elderly men joined him in throwing bricks. Some crowd members found them more bricks and brought them water.

All 14 drivers fled the scene in their damaged cars after seeing the crowd.

Police interviewed Yan and he was released without charge.

Yan became a crusader for road safety after a female pedestrian was killed on the crossing in his community last year.

He successfully lobbied the police for traffic lights at the intersection, but said motorists still ran the red light.

Internet polls by China's major Websites, including and, showed that most Netizens supported Yan. In one poll, 260,000 of 330,000 respondents backed Yan's action.


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