'Turning Point'? Hong Kong Police Descend on Protest Sites, Targeting Leaders

A mass of Hong Kong police in riot gear swept a major Occupy Central protest site on Wednesday, breaking down barricades and tents and arresting over a hundred people, including some of the more prominent activists in the pro-democracy movement that emerged over the summer.

Among those taken into custody was Joshua Wong, the student leader hailed by TIME in October as “the voice of a generation.”

Hundreds of officers descended on a key protest zone in the busy commercial and residential district of Mong Kok, where organizers with Occupy Central have held operations for months. According to Reuters, the crackdown “could be a turning point in the fight to wrest greater political freedom from Beijing’s control.”

Reuters continues:

But the move by police was not able to keep protesters from returning directly to the same site as soon as they could.

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The New York Times reports:

Also on Wednesday, seven Hong Kong officers were arrested for their part in the beating of a peaceful protester, in a violent encounter in October that went viral in the news and on social media after security footage captured the incident.

The officers were arrested on “assault occasioning actual bodily harm,” a police statement said.

Demonstrations in Hong Kong began in September. China announced that it would only allow Hong Kong to vote on a leader for the semi-autonomous region from a list of candidates who have been pre-approved by a council staffed largely by government loyalists. Activists are demanding true suffrage for the upcoming elections, which will take place in 2017.

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