Hong Kong police pulled down barricades on Monday and folded up tents at the third and final pro-democracy protest camp, putting an end to demonstrations that have blocked traffic in the southern Chinese city’s streets for 2 1/2 months.
Police had told the protesters to leave “immediately” from the short stretch of road in Causeway Bay.
A small group of protest leaders chanted “we will be back” and called on Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong’s chief executive, to step down.
This past week authorities shut down the protesters’ main camp near the heart of the city’s financial district and arrested 249 people who refused to leave for unlawful assembly.
The student-led protesters rejected Beijing’s plan to screen all candidates in the first-ever elections for Hong Kong’s top leader, but failed to win significant concessions from the government.
However, many say the protest movement sparked a wider political awakening among the city’s residents, especially the young. Protest leaders vowed to keep up their campaign of civil disobedience through other methods to continue pressuring the government for genuine democracy.
Otto Ng, an 18-year-old student, had been camped out at the main Admiralty protest site and came to Causeway Bay to watch the last moments.
“It feels a bit depressed and hopeless, but at the same time this is just the beginning, it’s not the end. We still haven’t got what we wanted. It’s awakened the Hong Kong people,” he said.
Protesters at the camp had been resigned to eventually being removed after the main site was shut down in an orderly and peaceful operation on Thursday and had already begun packing up their things.
What was left, such as chairs and shipping pallets was piled up by police and workers to be loaded onto a dump track and taken away.
A group of about dozen people, including one pro- democracy lawmaker, were sitting down in the street and refusing to leave so that they could be arrested.