After ten days of demonstrations, some of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters began removing barricades and leaving the streets on Sunday. Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying has demanded that the protests be scaled back by Monday morning to ensure easier access to businesses, schools, and municipal buildings. “To restore order, we are determined, and we are confident we have the capability to take any necessary action. There should not be any unreasonable, unnecessary obstruction by any members of the public,” said a police spokesperson.
However, the mostly young demonstrators are divided on whether to pull back, with Reuters reporting that at least 4,000 — “far fewer” than were present the previous day — remained in the Admiralty, a government district, as of Sunday night. “[People] need rest, but they will come out again. It doesn’t mean the movement is diminishing. Many people still support it,” protest leader Lester Chow told the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, a government source told the New York Times, “The protesters are also looking for a way to stand down, though some die-hards would remain — minimum force would be used only if needed.” The authorities have used tear gas and pepper spray on the protesters in the past — some were pepper-sprayed on Saturday night, the AP reports — and a violent crackdown might inspire some to re-join the movement. “If they use tear gas, that will bring people into the streets again,” said lawmaker Dennis Kwok. “We’re afraid there may be a police crackdown, so we came here to support. The more people we have, the harder it is for the police to clear,” 25-year-old Lester Leung told Reuters.