After 79 days, Occupy Central — the protests for democracy that swarmed Hong Kong — is gone. On Monday, police began clearing what was called the biggest political protest in China since Tiananmen Square in 1989.
“It feels a bit depressed and hopeless, but at the same time this is just the beginning, it’s not the end,” 18-year-old Otto Ng, among the last protesters to leave, told the BBC.
Protests began on Sept. 26, when students took over government headquarters in central Hong Kong. The demonstrations drew up to 100,000 people. For all the support the protesters received internationally, locally they were criticized by those who seemed sick of the inconvenience. Last month, polls showed two-thirds of city residents wanted the protesters to clear the roads.
“I’ve never seen anything take such a toll on business,” one business owner complained to the South China Morning Post. “At least we could sell disinfectant during the SARS outbreak” a decade ago.
About 1,000 people were arrested in Occupy Central’s 11 weeks. Police said an investigation of those involved would be completed within three months.
“I don’t think it’s a failure. This is not the end,” protester K.T. Tang, a legal executive, told Reuters. “I hope the next time when we gather in the streets, we will be celebrating, instead of shedding tears for achieving nothing.”