In the largest police action against pro-democracy demonstrators since the Occupy Central protests ended nearly three weeks ago, Hong Kong police said they arrested a total of 37 people in Mong Kok in a second night of protests and clashes during the Christmas holidays. Police said on Friday morning that the 37 protesters, including 26 men and 11 women aged between 13 and 76, were arrested for suspected offences such as "disorderly conduct in public place" and "criminal damage". The disturbances started at 9pm on Christmas night and spilled over into the early hours of Friday morning in the residential neighbourhoods in Mong Kok. Around 300 protesters engaged in a 5 hour-long stand-off with police, as hundreds of officers were deployed to contain what they call an “illegal occupation”. On several occasions, police raised yellow warning flags in an effort to quell the angry crowds. The largest number of arrests -- of 20 men and 10 women -- were made in a case of suspected criminal damage in the stairwell of a private apartment block on Tung Choi Street following resident complaints. People living in the block complained that the crowd had entered the property illegally, and one resident complained that a metal gate had been damaged. Following the complaints, the police moved in and made the arrests. Early on Friday morning, one male protester was arrested on Nathan Road for criminal damage after he pushed over rubbish bins, spilling trash onto the road in a bid to stall traffic. About 10 more people were pulled aside by police and detained briefly in relation to the episode. On Christmas Eve and early Thursday morning, police had arrested 12 people in clashes as large crowds carrying yellow-coloured accessories gathered and chanted slogans demanding true universal suffrage in Mong Kok. On Thursday evening, hundreds of vocal protesters gathered again as their slogan of “I want real universal suffrage” echoed around the narrow roads and tall apartment blocks in the district. Tensions boiled over as police bottlenecked protesters in Tung Choi Street, separating hundreds in order to prevent crowds from getting out of control. Police repeatedly demanded that protesters register their identity cards before they could leave the cordon. Some claimed to have been detained for almost three hours, during which time they could hardly get a toilet break. The round-up tactic attracted criticism from Eric Cheung Tat-Ming, a member of the Independent Police Complaints Commission who was at the scene to observe the police operation. "Although there were no complaints about physical contact, some said they were unsatisfied with how police had cordoned off the crowd," said Cheung, after speaking to the crowd. He said some people told him they just happened to be walking past, but found the area ahead was blocked. When they turned around to leave, they found all the exit routes were guarded by police. "Police have to explain and pay heed to the fact that passers-by have been dragged into this," said Cheung. But the member of the law enforcement watchdog said he did not want to draw any conclusion as yet. Human resources clerk Miranda Shum Kit-wah, 24, described the police tactic as “unfair”. “I feel so angry because we are trapped unreasonably and they don’t give us a reason why they’ve trapped us in the area,” she said. “They ask us to show our ID for further investigation. They think we’re demonstrating illegally, but I don’t know why because in Hong Kong we have the right to protest. They [police] don’t stand for justice anymore,” she added. Student Joshua Chan Long-hin, 19, claimed he was pushed over by police officers during a scuffle as police arrested protesters. "My arm is in pain, and I think this is ridiculous. I just want to go home. They are asking for our IDs before we can go. Are we not a free place? Why do we have to give our IDs?” Those arrested were taken to Cheung Sha Wan police station at the last minute, after angry crowds gathered outside Mong Kok police station.