Pro-democracy protests that swept onto the streets of Hong Kong 11 weeks ago faced a muted ending on Monday, when the police dismantled the last remaining road occupation, and a prominent student activist, Joshua Wong, appeared in court with about 30 other arrested protesters.
But the city still confronted aftershocks from the months of political strife.
After almost three months of tumult, the street protests had dwindled to a few dozen tents in the Causeway Bay area, a hectic shopping district. Before the police moved in to clear the area, most of the remaining dozens of protesters packed away their tents and sleeping bags and left the road of shops and malls festooned with Christmas decorations. About 16 stayed sitting on the road, waiting to be arrested in a gesture of support for what they call the Umbrella Movement, after the umbrellas used to fend off police pepper spray.
“It’s my responsibility,” said Harry Chow, 47, a floor polisher who said he had quit his job to join the protests and would accept arrest. “I want to tell people that the Umbrella Movement is not ending, and this is just a small part of it.”
Within 30 minutes of the police moving in, the last tent was pulled down, and trucks mounted with cranes were brought in to clear debris from the road, while clusters of protesters shouted from the sidewalk. The camp at Causeway Bay was by far the smallest, and the least volatile, of the street occupations that sprang up across Hong Kong on Sept. 28. That day the police’s use of tear gas and pepper spray to disperse student protesters around the city government headquarters backfired, and tens of thousands of people took to the streets in anger, also demanding that the government heed their calls for democratic voting rights.
“We achieved something,” said Teresa Liu, a student who said she had regularly stayed at the camp since Sept. 29. “We achieved international notice, and since we got notice, China has no excuse to hide anymore.”