On the face of it, this is an odd one. In November last year Ran Jianxin, the Communist Party Secretary of Lichuan, a county level town in Hubei Province, was taken into custody following bribery allegations. He was put under formal arrest on May 26 and subjected to what is described as “many disciplinary meetings”. As a result, he turned up dead on June 4. (some pictures NSFW). And then:
On June 9, about 20,000 citizens surrounded the city government building. The armed police were pelted with thousands of rocks, fruits and garbage. The security guardhouse windows were smashed. In the afternoon, more than 100 armed police officers charged out and hit the demonstrators with electric batons.
The immediate question would be why people would turn up to demonstrate on behalf of a corrupt official – who are normally the target of protests. As Shanghaiist points out, the local belief is that Ran was an honest official framed on bribery charges by corrupt local interests, an assertion supported by the fact that he was kept for six months investigation without his accusers finding enough evidence against him and then maybe subjected to prolonged torture in order to get him to confess.
Lichuan is apparently quiet as of now. The proximate question here is what the Party is going to do about the fact that one of its own was apparently killed by local powerholders, some of whom we can assume would also be Party members.