Students Not Radicals, Hong Kong Police Suggest in Statement for Mong Kok Clearing

November 24, 2014 Updated: November 24, 2014

Ahead of Tuesday’s clearing of Mong Kok, Hong Kong authorities are distinguishing between Occupy movements supporters.

In a press release on Monday, Nov. 24, Hong Kong police formally announced that they will be supporting bailiffs authorized by the high court to see out court orders to clear a part of Argyle Street in Mong Kok, which has been occupied for nearly two months.

Police should help enforce the Argyle Street injunction, which was taken up by a mini-bus company, on Tuesday, 9:00 a.m. Hong Kong time (8:00 p.m. EST, Monday) RTHK reports. Injunctions taken up by two taxi associations for the larger Nathan Road area are expected to be executed on Wednesday.

Occupiers who refuse to comply with court orders will be arrested, and police will take “resolute action” against those who “obstruct or violently charges the bailiffs.”

The latest police statement is not merely a rehash of the one announcing the clearing of Admiralty last Tuesday.

As Mong Kok is the most volatile of the three protest sites — some protesters claim that it is an “Umbrella Revolution” and not an “Umbrella Movement” there — police are anticipating protesters there to offer more resistance than the Admiralty crowd, who let government building staff, bailiffs, and police remove barricades without giving any trouble.

Police note that “some people” in Mong Kok have put aside “supplies to provoke others to put up a resistance,” while others have declared that they would retake the “high-risk area” after authorities have completed their task.

Police have also started differentiating between the pro-democracy protesters, warning the public and “especially students” not to mix with “radicals and troublemakers” and be incited to commit “illegal acts.”

A distinction is being made between students and “radicals” possibly because of recent developments in the Occupy movement. Last Tuesday, a handful of masked protesters broke a glass door of the Legislative Council building, and the Hong Kong government and the pro-democracy camp alike both suggest that the culprits belong to radical groups and are not students, who currently form the bulk of the protesters.

While radical democracy groups like Civic Passion do not condone the LegCo break-in, they are calling for an escalation in the demonstrations so that the Umbrella Movement can reach its goals of gaining greater democracy for Hong Kong. Student leaders from the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HFKS) have failed to make any headway in achieving the movement’s goals despite having a dialogue with the government. They have also been stopped from entering the mainland to bring their concerns directly to Beijing.

The radical turn might also have something to do with waning public support for an occupation that has gone past the fifty-day mark. More than 80 percent of 513 people surveyed last week by Hong Kong University researchers said the protesters should go home. A separate survey by the Chinese University of Hong Kong released days earlier found about two-thirds of 1,030 respondents felt the same way.

The recent opinion polls are pushing the students to take a stand. Tommy Cheung, a member of the HKFS, said on Monday that they will decide “whether to upgrade the protest or retreat from it” over the next few days after discussing with various parties, according to a Ming Pao report.

But the Hong Kong police should have little to worry from the students, who intent to persist in their nonviolent approach for Tuesday’s clearing of Argyle Street.

Prominent student leader Joshua Wong told the crowd in Admiralty on Monday that various student groups will send representatives to observe the clearing to check that the bailiffs stick to the court orders, and will not charge them.

“We won’t fight the clearing, but we’re fighting for a real result (for democracy),” Wong said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.