HONG KONG — Hundreds of Hong Kong police used sledgehammers and chainsaws to dismantle pro-democracy barricades near government offices and the city's financial center on Tuesday, reopening a major road for the first time since protests began two weeks ago. In a setback to "Umbrella Revolution" protesters, traffic flowed freely along Queensway Road after their sit-in and barricades were cleared. But other major protest sites remained in tact in the Admiralty and Mong Kok districts and pro-democracy demonstrators were defiant.
"We will rebuild them after the police remove them," protester Bruce Sze said. "We won't confront the police physically." Unlike Monday, which saw clashes between anti-protest groups and pro-democracy activists after police removed barricades, Tuesday's operation resulted in no such confrontations. However, tensions are expected to escalate on Wednesday when taxi drivers, who say business has dropped by around 50 percent, have threatened to remove barricades if protesters have not cleared them by then. The protesters, who are mostly students, are demanding full democracy for the former British colony.