On October 1, the Chinese Communist Party's National Day, there were many tourists on Tiananmen Square. The area was also heavily guarded with police reinforcements at intersections and on the square itself. Petitioners coming to Beijing to appeal their grievances, including many tourists, were searched. From 7 to 10 in the morning, seven police vehicles and more than 100 appealers were arrested and taken away. At 10 a.m., a woman, her children and about a dozen other people who came to appeal were arrested near the flag pole. The difference between her and other protesters was that she was the only one who successfully put leaflets near the flag pole on the north end of Tiananmen Square.
There were also many policemen and police vehicles keeping watch on the periphery of the square. The heavy police presence on Tiananmen Square was made up of armed policemen, regular policemen and plain-clothed policemen. There were approximately four to six armed policemen, six or seven regular policemen, and plainclothes policemen at every intersection. Most people who entered the square with bags were "searched and inspected." On the square, policemen and plainclothes continuously stopped tourists for random bag searches. Every arrest by the police was accompanied by a throng of tourists, some of whom berated the police for their actions.
At 9:51 a.m., a dozen people in front of the flag pole were gathered into police vehicles. A woman squatted on the ground trying to resist arrest. Many tourists immediately gathered around to watch. At the same time, a woman on the side suddenly stepped into the police cordon near the flag pole crying out, "I've been wronged! Innocent!" and quickly scattering several hundred fliers. She dashed towards the flag pole but was quickly arrested and put in a police vehicle. The action was over within a minute.
Other than the armed policemen guarding the flag, the other armed policemen immediately picked up the woman's fliers. One of them had around 200 copies in his hands, but not even one tourist was able to pick up a flyer. All the police officers within the cordon scrutinized the crowd. Arrests, suppression of displays of grief and indignation and preventing any photography were probably the main objectives of the police.
Many appealers said that it is impossible for tourists to pick up scattered fliers while on Tiananmen Square, especially in the vicinity of the flag pole. Because there are many attempts by protesters to make the flagpole the focus of their protest ordinarily, the area near the flag pole has become heavily guarded. When a protest occurs, even though numerous tourists gather around, the innermost circle is normally composed of policemen and plainclothes surrounding the protester.
One protester also said, "I have spread fliers on Tiananmen Square three times. It is impossible for people to get them. Within a minute, seven or eight policemen would clean them up. Today this woman was quite crafty. Not only did she scatter her fliers but she also dashed towards the flagpole. Although she didn't get to it before being arrested, I still haven't seen that sort of thing before."
The woman with her child carried a mesh bag similar to the sort used to pick up bottles. Before making the protest, her ten-year old daughter showed no fear. She quietly told other people, "We have come here to get to the national flag."
Others arrested that morning included a couple with disabilities who once protested against violations of the United Nations's human rights as well as four children.