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Occupy Central

Occupy Central Clearance: Full coverage of Thursday night's events

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 December, 2014, 8:17pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 December, 2014, 4:35pm

Good evening and welcome to scmp.com's live coverage of the police operation to clear the remaining Occupy sites, after 74 days of protest. The plan has gone smoothly, with much of Harcourt Road cleared of obstruction. Police also arrested several lawmakers, activists and Occupy leaders after they defied warnings to leave.

12.19pm: That's it and thank you for staying tuned to our live blog. Catch all the latest on our print edition and SCMP.com.

12.02am: Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying faced the press to talk about the police officer who slipped into a coma during today's operations. Leung, accompanied by the health department chief, said he wished a speedy recovery for the man.

A police source told the South China Morning Post that the police sergeant who collapsed was 49 years old, and joined the police force in 1982. He was promoted to sergeant in 1998 and now works for the Central police district's patrol sub-unit.

"He started work at 7am on Thursday and his shift hasn't finished yet when he was found unconscious [shortly after 7pm]," the source said. "His work is mainly supporting the operation ... And he has been working every day since mid-October."

The source added that the sergeant's heartbeat had stopped for a short while, and the doctor is yet to confirm the cause for his collapse, as he only has a minor flu and a clean medical history.

11.54pm: During the press conference, assistant commissioner of police operations Cheung was repeatedly asked to explain when police would clear the Causeway Bay protest camp. He responded it would come "at an appropriate time".

"We urge the public not to gather any longer at the [illegal occupation] in Causeway Bay. They should stay away from the radicals and troublemakers, and don't be incited to commit any illegal act," Cheung said.

He also stressed that the police would "step up patrols and take strict enforcement action" to prevent people from occupying roads again.

"Although roads are now reopened, past experience indicates that radicals and troublemakers may scatter to [different areas] to create chaos and attempt to block roads again. I stress that the police are duty-bound to maintain public peace and protect public order and safety.

"We will take resolute action against anyone who disrupts public order," Cheung said.

Dismissing suggestions that the police arrested four activists on Wednesday and Thursday to stop them from going to the Admiralty Occupy Camp, Cheung said the arrest were made "based on evidence" about cases that took place since September.

11.45pm: A police sergeant is in critical condition and is being treated in the Ruttonjee Hospital's intensive care unit, after he was found unconscious in a police vehicle in Wan Chai at about 8pm on Thursday night.

Cheung Tak-Keung, assistant commissioner of police operations, said the sergeant is from the Central police district. "The working hours of police officers have been long, and this illegal occupation has lasted for 75 days," Cheung said.

"The sergeant was tired, and I knew he was working although he was feeling a bit unwell ... I hope he will get through this, and our [police chief] had visited him."

11.20pm: Thirteen hours after the first wave of policemen started dismantling the barricades, Admiralty is now devoid of any protesters.

The streets are eerily quiet and only a handful of officers are stationed there.

10.58pm: Admiralty traffic finally resumes - to the delight of drivers and commuters who have bemoaned heavy traffic in previous months.

Eastbound traffic (towards Wan Chai) flowed smoothly on Harcourt Road, as well as both the east- and west-bound lanes of Connaught Road, where Occupy's tents and umbrellas once stood.

10.40pm: A total of 209 people were arrested during the clearance operation in Admiralty today, according to Cheung Tak-keung, assistant commissioner of police.

Another 909 people had their personal details noted down by officers as they left after the site was cordoned off at 2.20pm, he said.

“Police may go after [the people whose details were listed] for their legal responsibility in future,” Cheung told a press conference this evening.

Cheung also said a police sergeant, who was feeling unwell, fell into coma while he was executing his duties today. He gave no further details.

The fallen officer was sent to the intensive care unit of Ruttonjee Hospital.

10.15pm: Before its demise, the camp in Admiralty had grown into a mini-community, surrounded by artworks, books, music and a hunger for change.

Check out SCMP's collection of before-and-after photos of Occupy's protest site in Admiralty. 

GALLERY: The Umbrella Folds

9.45pm: Full traffic may resume soon as police officers start clearing the eastbound lanes of Harcourt Road and its sidewalks. Officers will reportedly remain on standby along the pedestrian routes outside the government headquarters tonight.

Harcourt Road and surrounding areas were cleared today owing to an injunction granted to bus operator All China Express. 

The injunction covers Connaught Road Central from Edinburgh Place to Harcourt Road; Harcourt Road from Edinburgh Place to Cotton Tree Drive; and Cotton Tree Drive from Harcourt Road to Queensway.

9.20pm: A small group rallied outside the Kwai Chung Police Station in the New Territories, where arrested protesters are being brought.

Lester Shum, from the Federation of Students, said its members were arrested by police on suspicion of taking part in an illegal assembly and obstructing police officers in executing their duties. Nine members, including Alex Chow, were taken away.

 "The police's operation today may be able to empty the Admiralty Occupy camp ... [but] I believe what the government has lost is not only the support of young people, but also Hongkongers," Shum said. He said police did not resort to violence during the clearance probably because the public had pressured them to exercise restraint.

Shum said there would be more actions ahead when officials visit various districts to promote the second round of consultation on political reform, as well as when the administration presents its reform package to the Legislative Council for scrutiny.

"In the short run, the Federation would not appeal for people to re-occupy Admiralty. We need to wait for an appropriate time to consolidate the power of Hongkongers to pressure the government," he said.

9.10pm: Police have arrested the last of the sit-in protesters at the junction of Tim Wa Avenue and Harcourt Road.

Among the last to stay were Civic Party's Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, Labour Party's Lee Cheuk-yan and Alex Chow of the Federation of Students. 

Hours before, Chow - one of the faces of the movement - had seemed at once melancholy but hopeful about the future of Occupy, now that one of their key strongholds has been wiped away.

"I would not say we are retreating in a splendid manner today or that the movement is ending with victory, but I don't think we have failed either," he said. "[Occupy] may come to an end temporarily, but the second half will be coming in the next half-year."

Chow also said he was expecting to face at least six counts of charges, including unlawful assembly and incitement.

9.04pm: And it's open! The westbound lane of Harcourt Road is reopened to traffic. The first vehicle that passes is a taxi.

8.50pm: Evening crowds gather outside the Far East Financial Centre chanting slogans to support the remaining students. 

Police officers have warned journalists to leave Harcourt Road's westbound lane, towards Central, saying traffic would resume soon after the clean-up is done.

8.39pm: Protesters' anger against Beijing has run high throughout the Occupy movement, and newcomer Wang Dengyao, from Beijing, was no exception. He was among those arrested this afternoon in Admiralty.

Tears welled up in the 55-year-old's eyes while he lay on the pavement, waiting to be taken away. He said he took part in the 1989 pro-democratic protests on the mainland and was detained for six months. 

Wang arrived in Hong Kong three days ago to "find out the real situation", and began sleeping in a tent at the Occupy site.

"I'm from Beijing and came here to show my support for the movement," he said. "I knew the Chinese government was deceiving us and wanted to check it out myself.

"I'm here to represent Beijing's conscience. The Hong Kong students are making history," he said. 

Wang sees parallels between the 1989 protests and this one. "They are all for dignity, for the rights that everyone should be born with," Wang said. "It's invaluable. It's for our dream."

Wang was taken away by four Hong Kong officers after initially resisting. Before he was carried away, he shouted: "Down with the Communist Party!"

Police officer Lo Shui-lin told the Post they had yet to check his identity, but would treat him the same way as the others. Protesters may face the charge of unlawful assembly, rather than contempt of court, as they made sure to gather outside the areas covered by the court-ordered injunction.

8.15pm: Sit-in protesters on Harcourt Road have seen their numbers diminish from nearly a hundred to just 40 people after police officers arrested them one by one.

The protesters were handcuffed with plastic ties and brought to waiting police vans, but not before they got to yell slogans and defiant words.

One protester emotionally said, "This is the most beautiful day in Hong Kong I have ever seen" before being escorted away.

The arrests kicked off at about 4.20pm. The first arrested was a young woman, who had to be lifted off her feet and carried away by female officers.

Those taken away so far are: Next Media chairman Jimmy Lai, Civic Party boss Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, Civic Party member Claudia Mo, Democratic Party founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming, singer Denise Ho, Alan Leong Kah-kit (also of the Civic Party) and radical lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung.

An 80-year-old Occupy supporter known as Uncle Wong, and Hong Kong Federation of Students members Ivan Law, Lily Lai, Mio Chan and Christine Leung were also arrested.

8.05pm: Watch our video of pro-Occupy supporters getting arrested.

Protesters have vowed there will be another round of occupations in the future and that they would not give up on the fight for universal suffrage. The phrase "We will be back" has been scrawled on tents, roads and walls of the now-gradually emptying protest site.

7.50pm: Independent Police Complaints Commission member Lam Tai-Fai gave no comment on whether the presence of observers from IPCC in Admiralty had any effect on the police's handling of the clearance.

In response to complaints from non-Cantonese speakers that police failed to announce in English some key instructions to remaining crowds, Lam said announcements in English were "indeed much less frequent".

Lam, also a lawmaker, said he heard an officer broadcast warnings in English opposite the Admiralty Centre.

Police announced that the masses should leave by 2pm, and those who stayed past the deadline would be required to have their ID numbers listed by police.

REPORTING TEAM: Peter So, Timmy Sung, Samuel Chan, Danny Lee, Alan Yu, Phila Siu, Emily Tsang, Elizabeth Cheung, Jennifer Ngo, Kathy Gao