Bailiffs and security guards evicted the final handful of "Occupy Central" activists from outside HSBC headquarters yesterday, ending their almost year-long campaign amid scuffles that left at least four people injured.
Three activists were arrested for assault after more than 30 bailiffs plus 100 security guards and police officers began the eviction at 10am. The activists were defying a High Court order to leave the site.
The bailiffs gave two verbal warnings before they began removing 10 tents, banners and furniture in the seven-hour eviction. About 20 activists who tried to hold on to their property were forcibly removed.
The anti-capitalism campaign started in October last year, inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York.
"It is unnecessary to remove us by hurting us and damaging our property," said one of the activists who came to support the dwellers, identifying himself only as Wong. "They broke our loudspeaker."
One activist was removed while trapped in her collapsed tent. Another was removed along with the table she was sitting on. There were clashes when some protesters tried to break through the heavily cordoned-off area to return to the site.
The evicted activists went to North Point police station to support three of their group who were arrested for assault after security guards were pushed to the ground during scuffles. The three were later released on bail.
At least three HSBC security guards and a bailiff were injured during the operation. One of those arrested was Mui Kai-ming, brother of the late Canto-pop diva Anita Mui Yim-fong. HSBC said it would pursue charges against those arrested for assault.
Law Yuk-kai, director of Human Rights Monitor, questioned whether the bailiffs were properly trained to remove the activists without hurting them. Occupants shouted at the bailiffs, saying the removal was illegal because they did not present a court order. A bailiff displayed the order at 3pm.
Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said bailiffs should present a court order before removing occupants.
An HSBC spokesman said the activists could retrieve their property, which had been temporarily held by the bank.
The bank's gates were shut during the operation and would remain closed - as they are during typhoon No 8 warnings - and security would remain stepped up until further notice, he said.