Hong Kong police arrest student protest leaders
Published 10:15 am Wednesday, November 26, 2014
HONG KONG — Hong Kong authorities cleared more street barricades from a pro-democracy protest camp in a volatile district Wednesday, part of a two-day operation in which police arrested more than 100 people, including key student leaders.
Police in helmets swiftly cleared obstructions from the 2-month-old protest site in Mong Kok, across Victoria Harbor from the main occupied area in the financial district. Some officers used shears to cut apart plastic ties holding together metal barricades while others tore down tents and canopies and carried away other objects, including a sofa. Ranks of officers, some equipped with backpack pepper sprayers, advanced down the street.
Police said 116 people have been arrested for offences including unlawful assembly and assaulting or obstructing police. One man was held for possessing offensive weapons including an axe, hammer and crowbar. Among those arrested were student leaders Joshua Wong, the 18-year-old head of the Scholarism group, and Lester Shum, deputy secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, according to the groups’ Facebook pages.
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The arrests of Wong and Shum could reinvigorate the protest movement, which has been losing steam as the Hong Kong government’s apparent strategy of waiting out the student-led protesters left them with few options. Organizers estimated that as many as 200,000 people took to the semiautonomous Chinese city’s streets at the start of the protests, but numbers have since dwindled sharply, along with public support.