A police spokesman warned Tuesday that "the chance of further confrontations is increasing" in the city’s Mong Kok district, where mobs tried to drive away protesters over the weekend. The protesters "have occupied the road illegally for many days," said police spokesman Steve Hui, adding that authorities would "take action at the appropriate time."
Earlier crackdowns, though, have backfired on the government. When police fired tear gas and pepper spray on unarmed demonstrators on Sept. 28, it caused an upsurge in support for the protesters and brought tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents into the streets.
On Monday, Leung, the city’s chief executive, said in a TV address that the government would seek "a sincere dialogue on political reform."
At the same time, he urged the end to the blockade of the streets and issued veiled warnings that the authorities would eventually need to "restore social order."
"I hope that the protesters gathering on the roads, especially students and young people, could think this over: While fighting for a better future and democracy for Hong Kong by way of civil disobedience, should you also consider the prolonged disruption caused to the general public?" he said.
Primary schools in districts affected by the protests reopened Tuesday, a day after high school classes resumed. Civil servants returned to work after protesters cleared the area outside the city government headquarters, a focal point of the demonstrations that began Sept. 26. But the city’s legislature, located in the same complex, postponed two meetings on Tuesday.