Monday, September 22, 2014   

511 held in Occupy rehearsal
(07-02 11:42)

Police say they arrested more than 500 protesters in their operation on Wednesday morning to clear a sit-in on Chater Road in central, after the end of the July 1 mass democracy rally.
The protesters, including members of the Federation of Students and Civic Passion, had linked arms while sitting on the road, and had vowed to stay until 8am. Their action was seen as a taste of what might happen later this year, if the Occupy Central civil disobedience campaign goes ahead.
Police had earlier warned those taking part in the sit-in that they risked detention and protection. In the end 511 were arrested.
Officers began to move in just after 3am, loading the protesters on to coaches. Some went willingly but those who remained were told that the police would use "necessary force" unless they boarded "designated vehicles".
Groups of officers then began to cordon off and physically carry demonstrators from the site. A police tannoy said that all those remaining were under arrest for causing "obstruction and danger to road users" and for unauthorized assembly.
The last of the protesters were removed about 8:30am, with Chater Road reopening to traffic at 9am.
The confrontation involving up to a thousand demonstrators followed a largely peaceful rally Tuesday, which organizers said attracted a record crowd and the largest since Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997.
The march organizers say 510,000 people took part in the democracy rally, but police estimated that 98,600 people were there. The University of Hong Kong's Public Opinion Program put the number of demonstrators at between 154,000 and 172,000. --RTHK   
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