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April 30, 2017

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Outspoken Facebook users voice support for local police

TAIPEI -- Web users who support police officers have taken to Facebook to show their appreciation after Monday's occasionally violent removal of protesters from the Executive Yuan left the public divided in its opinion of law enforcement.

Amid charges of police brutality, nearly 4,000 people had pressed "like" in three days to lend their support to a group called "Solidarity with National Police Agency (警政署) Director-General Wang Cho-chiun (王卓鈞)."

"There is no home without a nation and no peaceful society without police. We condemn those who aim to slander (the police)," the page's administrator posted in a message to thank law enforcement for keeping the peace.

But it will be a challenge for the fan page to catch up to Sunflower Movement Official Page, run by the student protesters occupying the Legislature, which as of 5 p.m. Friday had nearly 19,000 "likes." The page went live March 24, the day police removed the students who had taken over the Executive Yuan.

The popularity of Facebook in Taiwan cannot be overlooked as it has played a big role in the organization and execution of recent student protests.

According to figures from social network analysis firm Socialbakers, more than 9 million individuals in Taiwan are on Facebook -- 59 percent of the total Internet-going population and 39 percent of all Taiwanese citizens.

Central Police University professor Yeh Yu-lan also took to the world's top social network to announce a fundraising campaign to help cover the legal fees of police officers accused of misconduct in Monday's eviction.

Her move was a response to lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄), a Democratic Progressive Party hopeful in the year-end Taipei mayoral election, who has urged lawyers to provide pro bono legal services to the protesters.

Yeh criticized portrayals of the occupation of government buildings as revolutionary heroics akin to those of founding father Sun Yat-sen, accusing protesters instead of violating the Assembly and Parade Act, obstructing public duties and damaging property.

She argued that many people who used to respect law enforcement have joined the protesters in "spreading rumors" and "defaming" police, accusing "biased media" of portraying them in a negative light.

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