Pro-democracy protesters clashed with police today as they tried to surround Hong Kong government headquarters to revitalize their flagging movement for democratic reforms after camping out on the city's streets for more than two months. Protesters carrying umbrellas—which have become symbols of the pro-democracy movement—battled police armed with pepper spray, batons, and riot shields. After student leaders told a big crowd rallying last night outside government headquarters that they would escalate their campaign, hundreds of protesters pushed past police lines on the other side of the complex from the protest site. They blocked traffic on a main road, but were stopped by police barricades from going to Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying's office.
The protesters, many wearing surgical masks, hard hats, and safety goggles and chanting, "I want true democracy," said they wanted to prevent Leung and other government officials from getting to work in the morning. At one point, police charged the crowd, aggressively pushing demonstrators back with pepper spray and batons, after some protesters started pelting them with water bottles and other objects. Police later fell back, letting demonstrators re-occupy the road. At dawn, police charged again and cleared the protesters from some areas around the government headquarters. Police Senior Superintendent Tsui Wai-hung said 40 protesters had been arrested, adding that authorities would not let the road, a major thoroughfare, remain blocked. "We will open up this road," Tsui told reporters. A government statement said 11 police had been injured but didn't give a total injury count. (Read more Hong Kong stories.)