Hundreds of Hong Kong police brought saws and other tools to take down all the barricades and obstacles set up by protestors around the government and financial offices.
At night, on the same day (14 October), Hong Kong police clashed with pro-democracy protesters as they tried to clear an underpass near the city government headquarters.
Reports say hundreds of police officers wearing riot gear used pepper spray and batons to disperse the protesters, arresting several people in the process.
At a briefing before the clashes, police said they had to clear Lung Wo Road as it was a major thoroughfare.
Their new advance came hours after protesters blockaded an underpass after being cleared out of other areas of the city this morning.
Local television networks broadcast live footage of scuffles, showing police arresting many protesters whose hands were tied with plastic cuffs.
On Wednesday morning (15 October), an investigation was said to be carried out by Secretary for Security Lai Tung- Kwok upon officers who were in the footage aired by Local TV Network TVB (Hong Kong) for using inappropriate force against protesters. The footage showed a group of plainclothes policemen dragging a handcuffed and unarmed protester named Ken Tsang, a social worker and member of the opposition Civic Party, placing him on the ground and then started assaulting him, kicking and beating him for minutes. He was later taken to hospital.
The footage shot by broadcaster TVB has been widely shared on social media. For many years Hong Kong’s police force has prided itself on its professionalism, political neutrality and experience with crowd control but this time, it has created serious doubts and confusion for Hong Kong citizens with its violent behaviours toward protesters even against people who have been subdued and detained.
Police spokesman Hui Chun-tak defended their reason for using force against the protestors by implying that officers “repeatedly gave advice and warnings” before the operation to remove obstacles on the road. They had to take action when protesters “advanced forward in an aggressive manner, kicked our officers, [and] attacked them with umbrellas.”
In all, 37 men and eight women were arrested, Mr Hui added. Five police officers were injured.
Joshua Wong, a prominent student leader, told AFP news agency that trust between police and the activists was at a low point.
“The proper action police should take is to bring the protester to the police car, not to take him away and then punch and kick him for four minutes,” he said.
The protesters are now in their third week of occupying key parts of the city in a bid to put pressure on China and Hong Kong’s authorities to answer their calls for reform.
Thousands of people took to the streets at the beginning of the demonstration but the numbers have dwindled in recent days.