A small group of Hong Kong protesters break into the city's legislature and clash with policemen in the early morning hours. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) A small group of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters broke into the city's legislature via a side door early on Wednesday (November 19), and police used pepper spray on others forcing their way in as tensions in the Chinese-controlled city escalated following a period of calm. The incident began when a small group of protesters charged toward the legislature and used metal barricades and concrete tiles to ram a glass side door in the early morning hours. They eventually smashed through, with several managing to get inside, according to witnesses. Scores of riot police, some with shields and helmets, rushed over, using pepper spray and batons to keep other demonstrators from also smashing their way in. The flare-up came just hours after court bailiffs on Tuesday (November 18) managed to clear part of a protest camp in the heart of the city that has been occupied by pro-democracy demonstrators for nearly two months, while leaving most of the main protest site intact. About 30 court bailiffs had arrived at the 33-storey Citic Tower, also in the Admiralty district, to enforce an injunction forbidding street barricades after a request from the building's owners. About 100 riot police with helmets, batons and shields continued to stand on guard outside the government building in the early hours of Wednesday, facing off with protesters who are demanding free elections for the city's next leader in 2017. It was the first time protesters had broken into a key public building, defying the expectations of many political analysts who had predicted that Hong Kong's most tenacious and protracted protest movement would slowly wind down. Thousands of tents still remain on the main protest site in Admiralty. Many did not join the small group's action on Wednesday. While the protest has always emphasized the importance of peace, those who participated in the small protest Wednesday night argued that the attempt to break into the legislature was not a violent act. Hong Kong was returned to China from British colonial rule in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula that gives the city more autonomy and freedom than the mainland, with an eventual goal of universal suffrage. The protesters are demanding open nominations in the city's next election for chief executive in 2017. Beijing has said it will allow a vote in 2017, but only between pre-screened candidates.