SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) Pro-democracy protesters surrounded government headquarters and briefly blocked a key road near the Chief Executive’s office in Hong Kong’s Admiralty district on Sunday amid calls for an escalated campaign of civil disobedience.
Police used batons and pepper spray to push the protesters back, then demolished steel barricades the protesters had built on Lung Wo Road, a major east-west route.
Protesters retreated, chanting slogans at police who raised a red-flag warning that they might use force to disperse the crowds.
Local media outlets showed scuffles between protesters and police during the operation to clear the area around the government headquarters, including Lung Wo Road.
Before dawn Monday, police had arrested at least 40 people, according to the Hong Kong Police.
The Central Government Office, meanwhile, announced that it would be closed Monday morning because of the protesters blocking access roads and asked employees to stay home.
Police had warned protesters earlier not to block government buildings, saying authorities would take “resolute enforcement action if protesters became unruly.”
The tense standoff came at the end of a dramatic week in which Hong Kong authorities moved to dismantle protest camps in the city’s Mong Kok district, arresting dozens and drawing accusations of brutality in the process.
Protesters turned their attention to other protest sites, including the main protest site in the Admiralty district, in their continuing quest to force Hong Kong leaders and the Chinese government to allow greater freedom in Hong Kong elections.
The protesters want Hong Kong voters, not a committee influenced by China’s central government, to choose candidates in the 2017 election for Chief Executive.