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Police Clash with Demonstrators in Mong Kok

It started with the batons. Each officer gripped the black stick in one hand, a clear, round shield strapped to the opposite forearm, and they pulled on their riot helmets.

The demonstrators filled either side of Nathan Road and from behind metal barricades; they eyed their goal, a few feet away and filled with police. The demonstrators had occupied the intersection with Argyle Street before and now they wanted it back.

Agitators, mostly middle-aged men, possibly drunk this Saturday night, were heard from the street corners, yelling at the police and being perp walked periodically.

Shortly after midnight, the mood deepened. Police approached the demonstrators closest to the HSBC branch along the northbound lanes of Nathan Road. A line of Occupy supporters gripped the metal barriers and began rocking them, pulling them almost to the ground. The police pulled the barriers back, hammering at forearms with their batons. The demonstrators approached with their umbrellas, the movement’s shield of choice, and those too were beaten with batons, ripped from the hands of the protestors and thrown behind the police, into the intersection, where a group of officers piled them.

In the southbound lanes the first row of barriers were removed, as officers and demonstrators clashed. A group formed around a man, trampled as the protestors retreated. A few officers and demonstrators each fought to protect the protestor as his eyes stared blankly skyward. In the din of voices, officers lifted the man to his feet as the fog cleared from his vision and they carried him away.

Officers forced a small opening in a second layer of fences and they streamed through, chasing the protestors. Soon the air was thick with pepper spray. The police swung batons as they pushed the crowd past a supply tent stacked with boxes of water, goggles, helmets, and umbrellas.

The police advanced past several store windows, until the momentum faded. A gap formed between the two groups, batons on one side, umbrellas on the other. A demonstrator ran out to calm his crowd, creating more space between the authorities and themselves.

For several minutes demonstrators screamed at police and police yelled back. To attempt to gain more ground was futile and the police took a few steps back to the cheers and jeers of the protestors. As the one group retreated the other came forward, inching back to their original positions.

A policeman tore down the blue supply tent as he stepped past, infuriating the protestors. Photographers stepped over and on the boxes, scrambling as the police instructed them to get behind the front line. Some took their cameras and went while others stayed in the gap between authority and rebellion. Protestors ran forward, grabbed supplies and threw them back to the crowd. The police tried taking boxes of supplies with them as well until they were past the remains of the tent.

The police, backed up against the barrier they streamed through earlier, quickly backed through the narrow opening, pulled several journalists with them, then closed the metal fence.

The new front lines formed and the demonstrators roared, now 10 meters further from their goal with a crosswalk lost in the surge by the police.

When the rain came in the early morning hours, a policeman left his post, crossed the intersection, and searched the pile of broken umbrellas. Finding one that he was happy with, he walked back to his post and delivered it to a young woman standing on the front lines behind a fence. They exchanged smiles, she held it over her head, and the standoff continued.

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