HONG KONG (AP) – Hong Kong police said Saturday that they would clear out the third and final pro-democracy protest camp next week, putting an end to demonstrations that have blocked traffic in the southern Chinese city’s streets for two and a half months.
Police spokesman Steve Hui said authorities were giving the handful of protesters still occupying a short stretch of road in Causeway Bay enough time to pack up their belongings before they move in Monday.
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.
Hui said police would start clearing barricades on Monday morning from about 100 metres (yards) of Yee Wo Street that protesters have occupied in the Causeway Bay shopping district for 77 days.
“I now urge the illegal road occupiers to remove obstacles, take away personal belongings and leave the area in a peaceful and orderly manner soonest,” Hui said.
“If the illegal road occupiers refuse to leave, police will take action to disperse them.”
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.