The Hong Kong protest action under the banner of the Umbrella Movement – and for some the Umbrella Revolution – has come to a stage which many have seen as inevitable. After almost two-months blocking normally busy thoroughfares, enough was enough – from the establishment side’s point of view – and the clearance operation commenced.

Everything was done strictly according to process of law. Notices were posted on site and in newspapers. Court-appointed bailiffs warned protesters to leave and when the time came around 80 workers in red caps and “I love Hong Kong” T-shirts then started clearing metal and wooden barricades laid across Nathan Road.

By lunchtime November 26 the police had announced that 116 people had so far been arrested in the Mong Kok clearance, and twenty police officers were injured. Those arrested included the two young spokespersons for the groups Hong Kong Federation of Students Lester Shum, and Scholarism’s Joshua Wong. Also, militant (in his non-violent way) legislative councillor nicknamed Long Hair – though a brief spell ‘inside’ means that these days his hair is short – was also among those arrested. Szeto Tze-long from the Chinese University of Hong Kong Student Union, and Raphael Wong Ho-ming from the League of Social Democrats, were also detained.

Another militant legislative councillor, labour unionist Lee Cheuk-yan strongly condemned the police, accusing officers of using excessive force against the protesters. The labour party’s chairman Lee said the police were not in control of themselves. “Force should not be used to solve a political problem. We are calling for the police to calm down,” Mr Lee stated to the media.

Mong Kok has been a flashpoint for clashes between students and mobs intent on breaking up the protests. After the roads on Argyle Street near Portland Street were re-opened yesterday afternoon, protesters gathered around Portland Street. They confronted the police and tried to block the roads again using obstacles, but they were driven off.

Clearance operations at the junctions of Portland Street and Argyle Street, and Shantung Road and Sai Yeung Choi Street – roads not included in the court order also began. A police spokesman said the additional clearances were carried out under the Public Order Ordinance. Protesters tried to capture new strongholds on Shantung Street, Reclamation Street, Ferry Street and Shanghai Street and started building new barricades.

Arrests were made for offences including unlawful assembly, assaulting police, possessing offensive weapons and obstructing police officers. On the legal side court injunctions were used to show legitimacy of the police actions, who were obliged to assist the actions of bailiffs and their support groups in their distinctive colours who are anti-occupy.

The police had appealed to people not to go to those areas of Mong Kok to avoid unnecessary injuries, however, protesters numbered in the thousands ignored the appeals and took to the streets. The police also stressed they are duty bound to take action to safeguard public order and safety.

Following the clearance actions by police, happily in full daylight on the afternoon of yesterday and with relatively little opposition, by nightfall the situation had changed to the extent police used tear gas and pepper sprays quite violently on protesters. Protests spread to various locations around Mong Kok – some protesters were seen to be injured and bleeding – and the area was still in chaos into the morning of today.

The pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong was split even before these street actions with the two sides usually depicted as pro-Beijing and anti-Beijing, but now, that rough categorisation is more true. That can be seen entirely negatively and really frightening if it means an anti-Beijing camp is being set up in Hong Kong. That would not do. However, the anti groups are more interested in autonomy rather than anything more radical. They do not appreciate Hong Kong’s current Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying, who has been playing it so safe he is hardly heard or seen. His stand-in Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam, having to take the flak.

After a series of ups and downs of late the Occupy movement has slowed to a stalemate and the government might have been clever to play that waiting game, wearing down, not the students and occupiers so much as the population which faces daily disruption. After all, most Hong Kongers just want their lives back to enable them to continue with their daily chores and make some money.

What now is the question!

Will Beijing revert to the default conditions in the elections for 2016 and 2017 and pull back on their tightening control over who runs in those elections? Who can run was limited following a recent White Paper on electoral reform. That was only paper and not stone – let’s hope so.

Some interesting cases have brought to light questionable practices since Occupy, one such was on November 15, when three representatives of the students’ movement in Hong Kong were stopped at Hong Kong airport from boarding a plane to Beijing. They intended to petition the central government. The students were told their travel permits had been invalidated. Later, another group of students were similarly barred from entering Shenzhen.

It’s important that Hong Kong people continue to protest about any infringement of their rights based on the law. The students who were denied entry to the mainland could press the government to clarify, on what law was their visit to Beijing deemed a national security threat?

Meanwhile, according to one opinion poll, Hong Kong people’s sense of Chinese identity has hit a record low. What exactly does this mean? Outsiders may say how can a Chinese not be Chinese? Maybe we should ask the middle and upper classes on the mainland, especially rich and the senior officials, who are moving their wives and children abroad.

Whatever happens Hong Kong’s youth ain’t going to be the same again and the populace is better acquainted with its rights than ever before. What has taken place here is a positive reference for the future when the real meaning of participation may begin to assume catalytic properties and dynamise local polity, and daily life.