Friday, October 17, 2014
At about 5.00 a.m. today local time (2100 yesterday UTC), police in Hong Kong moved to clear obstacles to traffic at the intersection of Argyle Street and Nathan Road in Mong Kok, Hong Kong. For weeks the normally busy crossroads has been occupied by pro-democracy protesters and closed to traffic.
Police in riot gear cordoned off the roads and alleyways that surround the intersection, before moving in with trucks equipped with mechanical grabs to clear the roads of makeshift barricades. Also removed were tents, personal belongings, bedding and any other material protesters couldn’t retrieve in time. Many of the protesters were asleep when the police action began.
The police said they were acting to reopen the roads to traffic, not to forcibly clear the site of protesters, however the protestors were also urged to peaceably leave the site.
The police action effectively dispersed the majority of the protesters from the site. Protesters were moved onto the sidewalk by the police; when they could no longer be accommodated on the sidewalk they spilled into the alleyways, and down Nathan Road towards Tsim Sha Tsui. Once they had crossed the police cordon they were not allowed to return to the intersection. A small number of protesters remained on the pavements surrounding the intersection.
Protesters interviewed by local television station TVB said they felt the police had misled them; some said they would join protesters on Hong Kong Island, while others said they wished to remain in Mong Kok to maintain the pressure on the government.
The Mong Kok site is one of the three main protest sites of the wider 2014 Hong Kong protests. Protesters have been demonstrating in a bid for the right by the public at large to have a role in the nomination of candidates to stand for the post of Chief Executive of the territory.