Officers were seen at 7am cleaning up the debris and metal barricades that were secured with cable ties by protesters who used them to cut off access to the complex
After 16 hours of protests where thousands lay siege to the police headquarters in Wan Chai, tensions eased and the cleanup work began on Saturday morning (June 22).
Officers were seen at 7am cleaning up the debris and metal barricades that were secured with cable ties by protesters who used them to cut off access to the complex.
Trucks were also called in to remove the metal barriers while other officers covered up abusive graffitti with black plastic bags.
The cleanup work came after thousands of protesters started clearing out at 2.40am after they surrounded the entrances of the police headquarters for some 16 hours, during which about 100 police staff were trapped.
In a harsh statement issued soon after 4am, the police said they "have shown the greatest tolerance to the protesters", but "their means of expressing views have become illegal, irrational and unreasonable".
"Police will stringently follow up on these illegal activities," the statement said without giving further details.
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On Friday morning, an initial crowd of hundreds of protesters had assembled at the government headquarters in Admiralty, where a group had earlier camped out overnight.
Shortly before 11am, they took over Harcourt Road next to the government central offices, which were closed on Friday in anticipation of the protests.
Hundreds of the protesters then marched to the police headquarters about five minutes away, blocking out Arsenal Street and Gloucester Road.
Besides disrupting traffic, the police said the protesters had severely affected police work and the provision of emergency services to the public. Police could not handle 60 calls to its hotline due to the siege.
Nine female and four male staff were unwell and were taken to hospital for treatment, but with considerable delay during the blockade last night, the authorities said.
During the 16 hours, black-clad protesters chanted "Police, disgrace" and demanded Police Commissioner Stephen Lo meet them, but the officers kept silent.
The protesters also threw eggs at officers and the building, splashed oil onto officers, and covered closed-circuit television cameras with adhesive tape.
They had openly called for escalation on Friday, after the government failed to meet their demands by a 5pm Thursday deadline.
They are demanding that the now-suspended extradition Bill be completely withdrawn, that police behaviour during the June 12 protest be looked into by an independent commission, that the labelling of the protest as a "riot" be retracted, and for the unconditional release of those arrested during the June 12 protest.
Tensions peaked on June 12 when the Bill was to be tabled for a second reading, with protesters surrounding the government complex to prevent lawmakers from entering.
Violent clashes broke out, with some protesters throwing bricks and metal poles at police officers, who retaliated with rubber bullets and tear gas, leaving 80 people injured and 32 arrested. Eight were later released unconditionally.
The June 12 protest came amid two massive rallies - June 9 and June 16, where millions marched to protest against the Bill, which they fear will allow Beijing to seek the extradition of people, including journalists or political activists, on trumped-up charges.
The divisive extradition Bill, mooted in February, was intended to allow Hong Kong to send fugitives to jurisdictions it does not have such agreements with, including mainland China.
But those opposing this are concerned that the opaque Chinese legal system could mean people in Hong Kong could be targeted under the Bill without receiving a fair trial or human rights protection.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who has publicly apologised twice for her handling of the situation, had tried to allay such fears, saying the proposed changes - initiated by her, and not Beijing - were in line with international norms meant to prevent the city from becoming a haven for fugitives.
She had pointed out that the proposed amendments were watered down twice and that the government, after listening to public feedback, had put in place additional safeguards.
Still, many did not accept these explanations and took to the streets to show their anger.
EXPLAINER-Why proposed changes to Hong Kong's extradition law are fueling protests
The extradition bill, which would cover Hong Kong's 7 million residents and foreign and Chinese nationals living or travelling in the city, has many concerned it may threaten the rule of law that underpins Hong Kong's international financial status.
WHAT DOES THE EXTRADITION BILL INVOLVE?
The Hong Kong government first launched the proposals in February, putting forward sweeping changes that would simplify case-by-case extraditions of criminal suspects to countries beyond the 20 with which Hong Kong has existing extradition treaties.
It explicitly allows extraditions from Hong Kong to greater China - including the mainland, Taiwan and Macau - for the first time, closing what Hong Kong government officials have repeatedly described as a "loophole" that they claim has allowed the city to become a haven for criminals from the mainland.
Hong Kong's leader would start and finally approve an extradition following a request from a foreign jurisdiction but only after court hearings, including any possible appeals. However, the bill removes Legislative Council oversight of extradition arrangements.
If the bill becomes law, it will be possible for mainland Chinese courts to request Hong Kong courts to freeze and confiscate assets related to crimes committed on the mainland, beyond an existing provision covering the proceeds of drug offences.
WHY IS THE HONG KONG GOVERNMENT PUSHING IT NOW?
Officials initially seized on the murder last year of a young Hong Kong woman holidaying in Taiwan to justify swift changes. Police say her boyfriend confessed on his return to Hong Kong and he is now in jail on lesser money-laundering charges.
Taiwan authorities have strongly opposed the bill, which they say could leave Taiwanese citizens exposed in Hong Kong and have vowed to refuse taking back the murder suspect if the bill is passed.
A long-forgotten issue, the need for an eventual extradition deal with the mainland was acknowledged by government officials and experts ahead of Hong Kong's handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997 under the "one country, two systems" model.
The city maintains a separate and independent legal system as part of the broader freedoms the formula guarantees. Little progress has been made in discreet talks since then with justice and security officials on the mainland, where the Communist Party still controls the courts.
HOW STRONG IS OPPOSITION TO THE BILL?
Concern about the amendments has spiraled in recent weeks, taking in pro-business and pro-Beijing elements usually loath to publicly contradict the Hong Kong or Chinese governments. Senior Hong Kong judges have privately expressed alarm, and mainland commercial lawyers based in Hong Kong have echoed their fears, saying the mainland system cannot be trusted to meet even basic standards of judicial fairness. Hong Kong lawyers' groups have issued detailed submissions to the government, hoping to force a postponement.
Authorities have repeatedly stressed that judges will serve as "gatekeepers" or guardians for extradition requests. However, some judges say privately that China's increasingly close relationship with Hong Kong and the limited scope of extradition hearings will leave them exposed to criticism and political pressure from Beijing.
Schools, lawyers and church groups have joined human rights groups to protest against the measures. Following a brawl in the legislature over the bill, the government moved to fast-track the bill by scrapping established legislative procedures that stoked outrage amongst critics.
Foreign political and diplomatic pressure over human rights concerns is rising, too. As well as recent statements from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his British and German counterparts, some 11 European Union envoys met Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to protest formally.
"It's a proposal, or a set of proposals, which strike a terrible blow ... against the rule of law, against Hong Kong's stability and security, against Hong Kong's position as a great international trading hub," Hong Kong's last British governor, Chris Patten, said on Thursday.
Some opposition politicians say the issue now represents a turning point for the city's free status.