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April 27, 2017

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Hong Kong's long-running Occupy camp cleared

HONG KONG -- One of the global Occupy movement's longest-running encampments came to a chaotic end Tuesday in Hong Kong as bailiffs cleared out anti-capitalist activists and their belongings from a site underneath HSBC's Asian headquarters.

The last of the protesters was thrown off the site in the heart of the city's financial district by late afternoon. Pushing and shoving erupted after bailiffs and bank guards arrived in the morning to clear out the activists, who had ignored a court order requiring them to leave by Aug. 27. Some were carried or dragged away and taken outside a perimeter, where they were let go.

HSBC spokesman Gareth Hewett said four bank guards suffered minor injuries in the melee.

Several protesters zipped themselves inside some of the dozen tents on the site, but bailiffs cut at least one open and took the occupants away.

The bailiffs also catalogued and packed up the activists' belongings, including tables, bookcases, gas cookers and lamps.

As their possessions were cleared away, a handful of activists clung to two dirty sofas but were dragged away one by one, with the last taken away just before 5 p.m.

Hong Kong's Occupy movement started camping out under the HSBC building on Oct. 15, when protesters in the Asian financial center joined others around the world in a day of demonstrations against corporate excess and economic inequality.

The group, which according to media reports numbered more than 100 at its peak but dwindled to less than a dozen, has outlasted other Occupy encampments around the world that have been shut down by authorities including in New York, London and Frankfurt.

The land under the HSBC building where the Occupy activists were living is owned by the bank but legally designated a public passageway. A judge ruled that the activists' occupation of the space went beyond its designated use.

The global Occupy movement is generally thought to have begun Sept. 17, when tents sprang up at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan.

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