Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Beginning of the End

This morning around 10am hundreds of police officers ran out from their headquarters in Admiralty and started cordoning off the area in Queensway. In a very coordinated attack, some police officers prevented protesters from interfering as other police in dark blue armed with chainsaws and clippers, systematically cut up the barriers created last night made of bamboo and other materials and they were taken down in about an hour or so.

After the discarded barricades were picked up by a truck with a crane and cleaners swept the road, Queensway was open again to traffic and drivers must have been very pleased to take the road back.

However Harcourt Road is still being occupied, as well as two side streets leading to Queensway, though tonight riot police tried to clear protesters from Lung Wo Road, which is a tunnel. The riot police looked aggressive with batons, but then they found they were surrounded by protesters and had to retreat, even asking for space for them to leave the tunnel! Not a well thought out plan.

And now as I write (11.50pm), YTSL reports riot police are approaching with tear gas masks in their hands...

It's been an emotional day for protesters, seeing their territory shrinking. As the police took down the barriers, they told the protesters that they had occupied the streets for 17 days and now it was time to give it back to the public.

We don't know exactly how many people are for the students and against; we just know there are some outspoken anti-Occupy critics, some verbally trying to voice out their frustrations, others with intimidation and force.

So much for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying saying the government was willing to wait this out. Perhaps some tycoons expressed dismay that the protests had even lasted this long and wanted the government to do something about it before it further damages the city's reputation as a financial centre?

But when Queensway in Admiralty and two lanes of Yee Wo Street in Causeway Bay were opened, there was a massive traffic jam at the beginning of rush hour. I ended up getting off the bus in Wan Chai and walking all the way to my gym in Central.

On the way I passed by Admiralty and across Queensway I could see several rows of police standing in front of where the protesters were hanging around on the side streets. And on the Pacific Place side, there were police vans and several police standing around watching the proceedings.

Needless to say it looked tense.

It's now 11.15pm and YTSL reports the situation at Admiralty has now calmed down because of the sheer numbers of people there and she is now leaving the area.

The police may have have suffered a minor set back abut half an hour ago, but they gained a lot of ground this morning. They have already warned Mongkok is next, and the protesters are ready for them to come.

It seem the police agenda is to clear the streets this week, but we shall see how successful they are. As I said earlier, if the police had allowed protesters into Civic Square at the government headquarters over two weeks ago, the authorities would have had an easier time corralling people... but such is life.

Again how this is all going to end is anyone's guess. But we want it to be as peaceful as possible. If the protesters must retreat, so be it. But they will definitely come out fighting another day.

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