While overnight the massive student protest crowd swelled to as much as 200,000 according to eyewitnesses as today's deadline for their demands that HK Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying resign arrives, the gathering was surprisingly peaceful. That may change at any moment.
BREAKING: Hong Kong police warn of serious consequences if protesters charge government buildings— The Associated Press (@AP) October 2, 2014
As Bloomberg reports, student leaders yesterday said they would escalate the protests and may surround Leung’s residence, which overlooks Central, if he didn’t resign today. This morning, about 100 police officers guarded the road outside the office, a rectangular low-rise block that’s part of the government headquarters complex in Admiralty, facing about 200 protesters wearing black T-shirts.
AP adds that the Hong Kong police have warned of "serious consequences" if pro-democracy protesters try to charge or surround government buildings.
Police spokesman Steve Hui said Thursday that authorities would not tolerate any illegal surrounding of government buildings. He urged the protesters, who want top leader Leung Chun-ying to resign, to remain calm and restrained.
The protesters gave a midnight Thursday deadline for Leung to resign and for the government to respond to their demands for a change in political reform plans devised by Beijing.
And according to one SCMP reporter, today's escalation may have already begun, and "tonight is going to get messy":
Tensions rising as a stream of police stream into Tamar with riot gear. Crowds jeering and chanting "shame on you!"— Bryan Harris (@bryanhimself) October 2, 2014
Police entering through a very narrow between a stone wall and a wall of protesters. Getting intense. Police recording everything.— Bryan Harris (@bryanhimself) October 2, 2014
Crowds pin police against wall, shouting "you can not enter". Police shuttling in huge wooden crates. More gas tonight?!— Bryan Harris (@bryanhimself) October 2, 2014
Wow, crowds surging. Police trying to maintain supply line. Protesters are gearing up for gas - goggles are being passed around.— Bryan Harris (@bryanhimself) October 2, 2014
Police are carrying a boxes labelled "batons" and metal "flammable" tins. Tonight is going to get messy.— Bryan Harris (@bryanhimself) October 2, 2014
Hundreds of police entering Tamar. Crowds now screaming at cops. Student leader had the mike: "the police are liars" he screams.— Bryan Harris (@bryanhimself) October 2, 2014
"Police, you are CYs condom," screams one student in English. Huge jeering of officers. Few gweilo cops around. Scuffles!— Bryan Harris (@bryanhimself) October 2, 2014
And the punchline:
The wall the police are sandwiched against belongs to PLA barracks btw. They're looking down at the crowds.— Bryan Harris (@bryanhimself) October 2, 2014
Should the protest turn violent again, with tear gas and/or water cannon, keep a close eye on what the PLA will do: so far they have stayed out of it, but if the Police start losing control of the situation, things may escalate very quickly.