HSBC Holdings Plc sealed off access to the plaza of its Asian headquarters after court bailiffs evicted Occupy Central protesters, ending the last major holdout of the global anti-capitalist movement.
The bailiffs carried out the dozen protesters and removed tents, couches and tables. Security guards pulled down metal grills, typically only lowered during typhoons, closing the pedestrian thoroughfare.
“They were able to hang on to the spot largely because of the tolerance of HSBC,” said Joseph Cheng, a professor of political science at the City University of Hong Kong. “The political culture of Hong Kong is that to generate a movement, a campaign to attract a lot of public attention, media attention and then to exert pressure on the authorities. Usually the protesters do not have the resources to maintain the campaign for a very long time.”
The Occupy Central protesters took over the plaza under the Norman Foster-designed building last October. Police in London removed campaigners on June 14, while U.S. demonstrations ended in confrontation with authorities in November.
Scuffling broke out earlier at the HSBC plaza, with the security guards and protesters pushing each other. The demonstrators, armed with a bullhorn, microphone and whistle, yelled and struggled. Rows of policemen looked on as the bailiffs remonstrated with the protesters before carrying them out.
At the end of the day, a scattering of litter was all that remained of the almost-yearlong stay by the protesters. The eviction process began from about 10 a.m. today. The police detained at least one demonstrator.
Occupy Central, with protesters numbering about 50 at its peak, wants to create a community space for the discussion and sharing of the group’s ideals, activists said on a Facebook page. “Our consensus is that we will persist and stay till the end,” according to a statement posted on the Facebook page of Occupy Central on Aug. 29.
The demonstrators were ordered to leave the area before 9 p.m. on Aug. 27 by Hong Kong’s Court of First Instance. There are about 12 protesters on site now.
While Hong Kong has seen its wealth gap widen to a record, stoking public discontent, the Occupy Central movement has failed to attract demonstrators equal in number to those who took part in protest marches this year.
On July 1, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, as many as 112,000 people took to the streets to demand more be done about income inequality, human rights in China and higher minimum wages.
Thousands of black-clad students and parents camped out at Hong Kong’s government headquarters for 10-days demanding that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying dropped plans for Chinese national identity classes, which they said painted an overly favorable view of the Communist Party in China. Leung on Sept. 8 scrapped the deadline for the introduction of the subject to quell the discontent.
Occupy Wall Street plans to mark its first anniversary by trying to block traffic in the financial district and encircle the New York Stock Exchange, according to the organizers. The Sept. 17 protest, dubbed S17, may include attempts to make citizens’ arrests of bankers, and some activists intend to bring handcuffs, the organizers said.