Hong Kong authorities early Tuesday began to clear the barricaded encampments of pro-democracy protesters in the Mong Kok district, the most volatile protest zone of the city’s Occupy movement.
Under the watch of more than 200 police officers, the clearance action remained peaceful. Many protesters had removed most of their tents and other belongings overnight.
Leo Yeung, 22, who has been camping out in Mong Kok for nearly two months, was moving a bundle of blankets and beddings.
“We can’t allow the government to ignore us,” he said. “We don’t rule out escalating our action.”
On Day 59, the movement is now the longest-ever pro-democracy campaign on Chinese soil.
Court orders were sought by public transit operator groups, which complained that the blockades of major thoroughfares in the popular shopping district had hurt their businesses. Police were authorized to arrest and remove demonstrators who interfere with court-appointed bailiffs clearing the area.
Protesters took to the streets in late September, angered over guidelines for Hong Kong’s 2017 chief executive election. The demonstrators say the framework, issued by mainland authorities, does not allow for free nomination of candidates.
After drawing massive crowds to the streets in late September and early October, the protests have diminished substantially in size, though a few thousand demonstrators remain encamped in the Admiralty district as well as in the Mong Kok and Causeway Bay neighborhoods.