By Sunday morning, momentum gained from the week-long student strike was fading. The students that remained continued to reinforce barricades they had erected around the roads leading to LegCo. Others faced police in front of Civic Square, which had been cleared after students occupied the closed forecourt.
First aiders, some of them medical students, were prepared.
Other students were litter picking and sorting recycling.
Many had been on site for days and had been sleeping on the LegCo grounds.
At around lunchtime, police put Tamar Park and the surrounding roads on lockdown.
Protesters were allowed out of the area but were not allowed in. Hundreds began to gather at the bottom of the blocked escalator near Admiralty MTR.
Meanwhile, on the harbour front side of LegCo, a pre-approved pro-government rally was taking place.
The MC addressed tens of people in Putongua as patriotic songs were blared across the loud speakers. A banner complimented Hong Kong police on their professionalism.
Domestic workers on the west side of the legislative council building picnicked during their day off as normal.
Back on Tim Mei Avenue, the Occupy Central organisers and hundreds of students vowed to remain in the area throughout the day.
Wary of tear gas being deployed, protesters wore goggles and face masks secured with cling film.
Concerned about press freedom, observers from the Independent Commentators Association arrived. Restrictions on the media were “exceptionally stringent” according to veteran journalist Ching Cheong (left).
Thousands were now beginning to fill Glocester Road but were blocked from entering the LegCo area.
By mid-afternoon, police had begun using pepper spray on unarmed protesters.
There were scuffles on the front lines but no reports of protesters attacking police, using weapons, looting or interfering with police equipment.
Throughout the day, protesters chanted “CY Leung step down” and urged police to “open the area”, “release the students” and “step down from your duty.”
Police began releasing tear gas in an effort to disperse thousands who had descended upon Admiralty.
Huge clouds filled the LegCo area, causing protesters to flee north towards the harbour.
First aiders rushed into the gas cloud.
Many hundreds – of all ages – were affected.
Protesters were treated with water, milk and sodium chloride.
Some legislators were also on the front lines. Pro-democracy politicians Audrey Eu, Leung Kwok-hung ‘Long Hair’ and Claudia Mo were present.
Audrey Eu said “We have united… The students have been working very hard, it was time everyone joined in… [we] believe in one country, two systems not one country, one system”. Legislator Lee Cheuk-yan said the police action signified a “new Hong Kong” and that CY Leung should step down.
“President Xi, wake up – Hong Kong people need true democracy”, said Ed Chin of the Occupy Central finance group.
Another surprise demonstrator was the ‘godfather’ of the democracy movement, Martin Lee. Lee said he was ready to be arrested, “I have no hesitation whatsoever”.
As the evening progressed, more tear gas was fired at the end of Tim Mei Avenue, though only dozens of protesters were holding out.
See part two here.