OCCUPY CENTRAL
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Occupy Central

OCCUPY CENTRAL - THE FIRST NIGHT: Full report as events unfolded

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 September, 2014, 7:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 October, 2014, 1:00pm

 

 

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Watch: Police fire tear gas at protesters

Good morning and welcome to scmp.com's live coverage of the Occupy Central protest.

On Sunday night and in the early hours of Monday there were dramatic scenes in Central and Admiralty as police used tear gas, batons and pepper spray as they tried to disperse protesters. But the crowds would not be deterred, and thousands more have occupied Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.

Keep up to date with all the breaking news here.

7.30am: Protest organisers in Admiralty say police negotiators have requested this morning that they open the roads for commuters who need to get to work. The organisers refused and have asked to speak to a senior official to begin negotiations. 

6.44am: Everybody's up in Mong Kok now too, where protesters are singing songs by Canto-rock group Beyond. One protester has left a flower on the windscreen of a police van, along with a sign that reads "Go on strike". 

6.30am: Here's the latest update on traffic disruptions from the Transport Department. 

"Several road sections in Admiralty, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, and Nathan Road & Argyle Street in Mong Kok are still closed. Over 200 bus routes are diverted, suspended or at an adjusted service level. Also, certain exits of MTR Mong Kok Station, Causeway Bay Station and Admiralty Station are closed.

"Due to an emergency incident, the following major road sections are suspended: Hong Kong Island: Gloucester Road both ways between Luard Road and Harcourt Road (b) Harcourt Road both ways (c) Connaught Road Central both ways between Pedder Street & Harcourt Road (d)Tim Mei Avenue (e) Legislative Council Road (f) Lung Wui Road (g) Tim Wa Road (h) Performing Arts Avenue (i) Rodney Street (j) Queensway (k) Fenwick Pier Street (l) Cotton Tree Drive uphill bound (m) Yee Wo Street. As some major truck roads in Hong Kong Island have been closed, motorists are advised to avoid driving to Hong Kong Island. Affected bus routes are diverted.

"All lanes of Argyle Street, Tai Kok Tsui bound near Nathan Road are closed to all traffic. All lanes of Nathan Road both ways near Argyle Street are closed. Affected bus routes are diverted. All bus routes passing the area between Admiralty and Central are diverted. The public are advised to use the MTR as far as possible. According to Hongkong Tramways, tram services between Victoria Park and Western Market, and Happy Valley loop have been suspended. Below tram service could be maintained: between Shau Kei Wan and Victoria Park; and between Kennedy Town and Western Market."

Watch: Occupy Hong Kong: scenes from Admiralty, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay

6.00am: The rest period appears to be over in Admiralty, where a few dozen riot police officers carrying shields and batons - but not wearing helmets - have emerged and a loudspeaker announcement has woken the thousands of dozing protesters. Meanwhile, in Causeway Bay police have asked the crowd to make way for emergency traffic. Protesters there are debating among themselves how long they should stay put.   

5.40am: And here's the scene in Mong Kok at 5.30am, where the crowd has thinned in the last few hours. 

5.30am: Some pictures just in showing the scene in Admiralty after 5am. Exhausted protesters and police are getting some rest. What sort of Hong Kong will they be waking up to? 

4.58am: A tweet from our reporter Vivienne Chow in Causeway Bay. 

And Phila Siu in Admiralty at 3am. 

4.48am: More on the situation in Mong Kok, where thousands have gathered on Nathan Road and Argyle Street, vastly outnumbering police ranks. Exits at the Mong Kok MTR station have been blocked off by protesters using barriers and bus stops, while makeshift barricades have been erected on the streets. Two protesters climbed on top of a police van to take a rest, but were ushered down by others. The atmosphere is relaxed, with police keeping a distance from the crowd.    

4.28am: On Harcourt Road in Admiralty, the scene of pitched battles between students and riot police on Sunday, thousands of protesters are now resting throughout the road. In Causeway Bay hundreds of protesters have settled in for the night after riot police retreated towards Wan Chai. In Mong Kok, thousands are camped out on Nathan Road and Argyle Street.  

3.55am: Riot police who had gathered on Canal Road and Hennessey Road in Causeway Bay have now retreated, to cheers from protesters occupying the roads there. Some protesters followed after the retreating officers, saying they intended to march to Admiralty. Outside the Sogo department store, a man has collapsed and is being treated by paramedics. Police say that 38 people have been injured by 2.45am on Monday as a result of the protests. The latest figure for arrests is 78, as of 2.24pm on Sunday.    

3.42am: Some more images taken late last night in Admiralty, where thousands of protesters clashed with riot police on roads next to government headquarters. 

3.34am: The government has announced that classes will be cancelled at all schools in Wan Chai, Central and Western districts on Monday due to traffic disruptions caused by the protests. Civil servants working at government headquarters in Admiralty have also been told to check the latest traffic arrangements later in the morning and to only attempt to come to work if conditions permit.  

3.23am: A tweet from our reporter Lana Lam in Causeway Bay. 

3.10am: Despite repeated use of tear gas police have failed to fully clear main roads in Central and Admiralty, where protesters continue to defy orders to disperse. On Hennessey Road in Causeway Bay riot police are preparing to advance on many hundreds of protesters who have erected makeshift barricades and are staging a sit-in. In Mong Kok, thousands of people have flooded Nathan Road and Argyle Street where the police presence is low. Elsewhere, thousands of students have gathered at Chinese University in Sha Tin where discussions are being held over the continuing class boycott. The Federation of Students has called for a general strike to begin on Monday.  

2.50am: Extraordinary scenes in Mong Kok where a small group of police officers has been surrounded by hundreds of protesters, who raised their hands in the air to show that they were not going to attack or charge the officers.

 

Protesters have been playing drums and other instruments in Mong Kok since midnight. Meanwhile, the vice chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, Peter Mathieson, urges students to "put safety first" and leave scenes of protest. 

2.35am: Some interviews with protesters in Causeway Bay: Kiko Kwok, a 26-year-old beautician, brought water and other supplies with her boyfriend. "I came out after seeing on TV police use tear gas. I am so shocked and angry. They can't do this to the people. I must come!" said Kwok. "If police come, I will retreat, but I won't go home," she said, stressing that she does not belong to any organisation and came on her own initiative.

Crystal Yeung, a 33-year-old veterinary assistant, came out to protest on her birthday on Sunday night, and plans to stay until daybreak. "If we all do our part, it adds up," she said.

2.15am: DBS Bank has announced that its branches in Admiralty will be closed on Monday morning "due to instability in the area". At about 2am police fired at least three rounds of tear gas at crowds on the junction of Tim Mei Avenue - where the occupation began last night - and Harcourt Road. Thousands fled the scene but returned shortly after the tear gas cloud was blown away. Riot police rushed into the crowd but halted when protesters raised their hands to show that they did not intend to fight back. 

1.46am: In a recorded speech posted on the government's website, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying urges protesters to peacefully disperse as soon as possible "so that the daily lives of the public would not be affected". Leung dismissed reports that the PLA would be deployed and that police had fired rubber bullets on Sunday, saying that they were not substantiated by facts. He also called on the organisers of Occupy Central to stop the movement "in the interests of society".

Meanwhile, in Causeway Bay...

1.30am: Pictures coming in now from events in Central and Admiralty in the last hour. Meanwhile police are slowly making their way towards hundreds of people who have blockaded Hennessey Road in Causeway Bay.  

1.15am: In the last hour police have fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters in Admiralty, where a crowd of many thousands has gathered from this afternoon. Tear gas was also fired at protesters blocking roads in Central, and the demonstrators have dispersed and moved to regroup near to government headquarters in Admiralty. Meanwhile, hundreds have started a sit-in on a key thoroughfare in Causeway Bay, as thousands gather in Mong Kok on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong. Here is the scene at the junction of Nathan Road and Argyle Street in Mong Kok.

   

1.10am: Anson Chan Fang On-sang, Hong Kong's former No.2 official, says in a statement: “This is a sad day for Hong Kong.  Pictures of our police force firing pepper spray and tear gas into the faces of unarmed protesters will shame our government in front of the whole world. We strongly condemn the government’s action. By not fighting for the aspirations of the community for genuine universal suffrage our government has paved the way for the current crisis. What we need now is leadership and accountability, not violence and repression.”

12.51am: The scene in Causeway Bay, a busy shopping and business district, just after midnight. 

12.45am: Hundreds of protesters have erected barricades and are staging a sit-in on Hennessey Road in Causeway Bay. At Harcourt Road and the Connaught Road Central flyover in Admiralty, police fired several rounds of tear gas to disperse crowds at 12.30pm. At Lung Wo Road, also in Admiralty, police fired more tear gas at protesters outside the People's Liberation Army barracks. The crowd has withdrawn back towards government headquarters in Tamar.

12.31am: Federation of Students’ secretary general Alex Chow Yong-kang and his deputy Lester Shum are released from police detention, according to their lawyer Jonathan Man. The key student leaders were arrested during Friday's protests at government headquarters, and protesters have demanded their release over the weekend. Meanwhile, the number of protesters in Mong Kok has grown to about 1,000. 

Watch: More tear gas fired as night falls in Hong Kong

12.14am: Hundreds of people are gathering at the intersection of Nathan Road and Argyle Street in Mong Kok, as the protests spread to Kowloon. Police have used tear gas at Edinburgh Square in Central, where crowds have gathered on the roof of the Wilson Parking Building. 

12.07am: Volunteer first-aid teams are gathering at exits J2 and J3 of Central MTR station. Meanwhile protesters have set up a makeshift barricade at the intersection of Queensway and Murray Road some 30 metres from a police perimeter outside the Bank of China and Cheung Kong buildings. A phalanx of police in riot gear is blocking off the Garden Road flyover leading to Mid-Levels. The atmosphere remains tense as protesters berate officers using a loudspeaker.

11.58pm: The vice-chancellor of Chinese University, Joseph Sung Jao-yiu, issues a letter to all staff members and students informing them that the university has set up a 24-hour hotline and a legal team comprising several alumni to provide support for students seeking help. Sung says he felt “a sorrow that can’t be spoken” seeing the clashes between protesters and police.

11.35pm: Tweet from our reporter Vivienne Chow

11.17pm: Cardinal Zen, who has stayed with the organisers at the main stage, is urging protesters to leave now, saying "it's very clear that no dialogue could be made with this regime after today's happenings."

"We do not want to see anyone get hurt. A victory with sacrificed lives is not a victory," Zen said. "Today we have sent out a very clear message ... [but] we have witnessed an irrational regime. Please go home! There's nothing we can talk with [the government about]."

11.15pm: Occupy Central co-organiser Dr Chan Kin-man says the protesters should retreat.

"It is a matter of life and death," Chan said. "We put people's safety as our top priority.

"Retreat doesn't mean giving up.. we will still continue to struggle."

He says it's hard for Occupy Central to control the crowd outside as the occupation was self-initiated.

"Occupy Central has succeeded as long as the democracy spirit never dies."

11.14pm: Pan-democratic politicians Emily Lau Wai-hing, Albert Ho Chun-yan, Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, Yeung Sum and scholar Joseph Cheng Yu-shek were released by police at about 10pm, according to the Democratic Party. They received warnings and were let go without bail. They are returning to the main stage at Civic Square, Tamar.

The group were arrested earlier today for obstructing police when they tried to move audio equipment to the Occupy protest area.

11.13pm: Riot police guarding police headquarters on Arsenal Street move forward to push protesters into Lockhart Road. Police raise the red warning flag.

10.50pm Some protesters at Harcourt Road, Admiralty are retreating towards Wan Chai after the HKFS appealed for the crowds to leave amid worries that police might escalate force to disperse protesters.  But most of the people are staying at the scene, with helpers moving food and drinks to protesters.

10.45pm: The crowd of demonstrators outside police headquarters has grown to 500 and seems to be getting bigger.

10.25pm: About 100 protesters are moving towards the Arsenal Street/Lockhart Road intersection from the standoff at Fenwick Street, where they have confronted police for hours.
They are now standing off against 20 officers guarding the main door to police headquarters. 

10.20pm: Many people say television footage showing police firing tear gas at unarmed students prompted them to leave their home and join the Admiralty crowd.

Michelle Chow, 53, said she was shocked the police used violence against peaceful students who kept their hands above their heads.

"How could the police say the students were crashing against you when you were in fact pushing forth against them?" said Chow, who came in the evening. "It's my civil responsibility to show support for the students. The government must be scared if it uses such irrational force."

Kenneth Kwok, 23, an IT worker, said he decided to come after seeing the first tear gas shot.

"It's necessary for Hongkongers to stand united and support these non-violent students against excessive force," he said. "You can tell how irresponsible the government is by evading the public after all these people came out."

Colby Lee, a 20-year-old student, said he felt an urge to come after seeing the tear gas shots.

"The turnout matters. No one knows what the police will do if there aren't more people coming," he said.

9.55pm: Police fire tear gas canisters onto Connaught Road Central near City Hall.

9.50pm: The 50-or-so riot police officers originally guarding the front entrance of the government headquarters have suddenly retreated, and appear to be taking a break on the road side. The protesters have managed to advance about 10 metres closer to the headquarters as a result.

9.30pm: About 100 police officers storm onto the bridge that overlooks Harcourt Road outside the government headquarters, where thousands of protesters are staging a demonstration.

8.50pm: The crowd gathering on Harcourt Road outside the government headquarters has grown bigger, despite repeated tear gas rounds being fired.

An officer said through a loudspeaker that the force had so far used only "minimum force" to try to get them to leave.

"I urge you all to leave immediately. You are taking part in an illegal assembly," the officer said. His comments were met by loud boos.

8.39pm: Scholarism leader Joshua Wong has been released from police detention without charge. He was arrested on Saturday.

8.30pm: The Professional Teachers’ Union has called for a teachers’ strike starting tomorrow (Monday) to protest the police use of "violence and weapons” to disperse protesters.

“The police have made themselves enemy of the people,” said union president Fung Wai-wah. “The SAR government has ignored citizens’ demand for democracy, led to rising anger among the people and caused the standoff between the people and the government. PTU is extremely angry and strongly condemns the SAR government’s and police’s crazy actions.”

8pm: The Executive Council (Exco) has issued a statement:

The Exco non-official members appeal to members of the public to cherish the safety and stability of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region and not to participate in any illegal activities of the "Occupy Central" movement. 

Members also call on members of the public to seize the opportunity of the second phase of the public consultation on constitutional development to fully express their views.  If people of Hong Kong can seek common ground while respecting our differences, we can achieve the shared objective of electing the Chief Executive in 2017 by universal suffrage.

7.57pm: The Federation of Students urged all protesters to leave the scene if the police fire or use a long range acoustic device known as a sound cannon.

"We need to conserve our energy ... and continue to struggle," the federation said.

7.54pm: "I was here the past two days and I can't believe police would have to resort to tear gas," said Matthew Chau, 13, who refused to reveal his school fearing retaliation.

He was sitting next to the escalator on Harcourt Road when the tear gas was fired.

"My eyes hurt so badly and my lungs were burning," he recalled, after tear gas was fired.

"Police have used excessive force today," he said.

7.41pm: The government confirms that there was a mix-up over a police banner spotted in Harcourt Road during clashes that warned officers would fire if protesters did not disperse.

A government spokeswoman confirmed that the warning was that police would fire tear gas, not bullets. The spokeswoman added that ordinary police officers who took part in operation did not carry guns while riots police officers had plastic bullets loaded in their guns. “But not a single plastic bullets had been fired so far,” the spokeswoman said. 

7.30pm: Protester Kenneth Wong, 25, stood in front of some 10 police officers at the car park entrance next to the Civic Square.

"I want to tell them they are Hongkongers as well, and they also have choice," he said. "While they could put on mask before firing tear gas at people, I'm standing here, without any mask, to tell them they are doing something wrong. I have no fear."

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Professional Teacher’s Union announces that it will go on strike on Monday to protest the police’s “brutal handling” of the protests.

7.20pm The MTR Corporation announces that trains will skip Admiralty Station tonight.

7.13pm: Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor condemned the police’s crackdown on protesters. Its director Law Yuk-kai said it was “an unprecedented deviation of normal police practices".

Law said the crackdown was unnecessary because protesters were only exercising their basic human rights for a peaceful demonstration. He went on to say that the SAR government has turned into a “totalitarian regime".

“The way police crackdown on protesters was not proportionate.”

7.09pm: Chu Kai-lun, 31, claimed he was tricked by police. "A senior inspector told us to sit down, saying they won't do anything," he said, adding moments later police pulled on their gas masks and launched a volley of gas.

The Hospital Authority says it expects a lot of people will need medical treatment due to the Occupy protests. It says waiting times at the three public clinics at Queen Mary Hospital, Ruttonjee Hospital and Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital will be longer than usual, asking people to be patient.

More volleys of tear gas are being fired onto Harcourt Road.

Watch: Police use pepper spray and water guns as protesters outside government office tried to rush in

7pm: Riot police in green uniforms are carrying what appear to be shotguns that may fire rubber bullets. Another volley of teargas has been fired into the crowds. Each time tear gas is deployed crowds disperse for a while and then return to re-occupy the same space.

Leung Yiu-hei, 17, said: "People on both sides of the Harcourt Road tried to run away after the first shot was fired. The second shot was then fired quite close to me, and I saw someone tried to cover it with a towel and poured water over it," he added.

"We didn't launch any attack at the police. What we have are our bare arms.I don't know how these - Police using batons and tear gas - could ever happen to Hong Kong," he said.

6.47pm: The federation of students is now calling on protesters who have retreated to Tamar Park to go back and protect the stage outside Civic Square.

6.41pm: Eric Lai, 27, was near the Admiralty Centre when tear gas was fired. E said he was not wearing protective goggles and had felt the effects of the gas. After that, he joined protesters on Queensway.

"Don’t let my look fool you, I am really scared.,” he said.

He said he wanted all Hong Kongers and also those outside the city to witness the movement.

His friend Felix Tang, 25, said he only started to join pro-democracy protests after Leung Chun-ying became chief executive in 2012.

"No one even guessed the police would be so violent. We are unarmed, we only have our hands," he said.

The two were expecting tear gas to be fired on Queensway too, but said they would stay as long as possible.

"Even if you know you are not going to succeed, it is wrong to stop trying," Tang said.

Alvin Lai, a 23-year-old university graduate, said the force deployed by the police shocked him. He was sprayed with pepper spray outside government headquarters.

"Today’s protest is not particularly fierce. I thought things would be OK as long as a lot of people were here," he said. "People can’t even stand pepper spray. Why use tear gas and threaten to shoot?"

6.38pm: Occupy Central organisers take to the the stage and call on protesters to retreat from Harcourt Road and Tim Mei Avenue to Tamar Park. Equipment and materials belonging tp Occupy have also been moved to the park.

6.28pm: The Federation of Students sets a midnight deadline for the Hong Kong government and the national governments to meet their demands, otherwise, they would escalate their actions by boycotting classes indefinitely. The students also urged Hongkongers and businesses to go on strike.

The demands are:

1. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the officials in charge of the political reform process resign;

2. Retract the NPC standing committee decisions on August 31.

3. Reopen "Civic Square" to the public.

4. Allow public nomination for the 2017 chief executive election.

6.15pm: Genny Ying ws among the hundreds of protesters who retreated from Civic Square to Tamar Park after police fired tear gas.

"It never occurred to me that tear gas would be used in Hong Kong until we’re briefed how to handle it once tear has is fired," said the 24-year-old who retuned to Hong Kong recently after finishing her degree programme in Melbourne.

"But it wasn’t really that surprising as I read on Facebook some time ago that police already purchased anti-riot weapons such as the sound cannon."

"I can’t imagine what it would be like if [sound cannon is used] and thousands of people throw up at once."

6pm: Police fire as many as six rounds of tear gas into Harcourt Road and launch baton charges on the crowd. Protesters scatter hundreds of yards, many heading towards the harbourfront as they leave the protest zone via the Legco exit. Most protesters have retreated to Tamar Garden.

 

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