The main site of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests was taken apart piece by piece Thursday, ushering in the end of an extraordinary occupation that deepened political fault lines over China’s role in the city’s government.
Down came the rows of colorful tents that had populated a stretch of highway running through the heart of the city’s financial district. Down came the works of protest art that had sprung up during the occupation, including the movement’s emblematic umbrella sculptures.
Police dragged out the last remaining demonstrators one by one.
The clearance of the site heralded the end of more than 10 weeks of street demonstrations that challenged China’s Communist-ruled government and captured the world’s attention.
The protests blocked off parts of the city for weeks, led to sporadic clashes, and appeared to serve as a political awakening for many young Hong Kong citizens.
After bailiffs dismantled barricades at the site, following a court injunction requested by a bus company, waves of police officers moved in.
They met little resistance as they yanked down tents and used box cutters and chainsaws to cut through improvised barriers of metal, wood and plastic.
Bailiffs carried off broken umbrellas that had also formed part of the barricades — wilted versions of the protest movement’s emblem.
The protest site, next to the city’s government headquarters, had once drawn tens of thousands of people. But on Thursday, only a few hundred remained. Many people had packed up and left before the deadline set by authorities.
“If it’s a test of force, there’s no possibility that we can win,” said Jamie Ng, a 21-year-old protester who vowed to stay until the end.