Update as of 07:40 a.m. EDT: Protesters in Hong Kong have threatened to call off talks with the government, unless action is taken to prevent violent attacks on protesters in the city.
A statement, issued on behalf of the three main protest groups said "HKFS [Hong Kong Federation Of Students], Scholarism and OCLP [Occupy Central with Love and Peace] say that if the government does not immediately prevent the organized attacks on supporters of the Occupy movement, the students will call off dialogue on political reform with the government.
The ultimatum follows reports of clashes between business owners and protesters in the Mongkok district of the city late Friday. See below for more information.
Original story below
HONG KONG – Shouting and fighting broke out Friday afternoon between protesters and critics who complained that their businesses, located near one of the smaller Hong Kong protest sites, were suffering as a result of the road blockade.
“We’re losing money,” one woman shouted from atop a ledge in the middle of Nathan Road, a congested shopping street in Mongkok, as members of the crowd called on her to leave.
Several confrontations took place Friday afternoon between a few dozen protest supporters in the crowd and a handful of others who said they were nearby residents and business owners fed up with the disturbances. Expletives filled the air as the exchanges became more heated, and some of the detractors took down the metal barricades that had been surrounding the site.
“I am a Hong Kong person too,” one man shouted after decrying the nuisance the demonstrations had caused.
“You don’t represent me,” replied a member of the crowd. “I represent myself.”
A patch of Nathan Road in Hong Kong’s Mongkok area had been the stage for a smaller offshoot of the pro-democracy demonstrations in the Admiralty and Central districts over the past several days. Mongkok’s protest scene generally attracted crowds that were older than the largely student-aged population of the larger demonstration sites. Both groups of protest supporters and critics at the site on Friday afternoon were middle-aged.
Meanwhile, reports surfaced Friday that pro-Beijing activists were also confronting protesters at another demonstration hotspot in Causeway Bay.
Michael C., a 28-year-old student who observed the scene in Mongkok, suspected the critics were paid by the Chinese government to splinter the movement.
“I saw yesterday at Causeway Bay, an old lady coming out, yelling by herself, handing out leaflets and saying ‘You don’t know what you’re doing,’” he said. “She gathered a group of bystanders and after the crowd dispersed, because we don’t want to engage in fights, she turns off like a switch and moves to another crowd. So from my observation, the rumors are correct and they’re being paid.”
Other bystanders at Mongkok were also questioning among themselves whether the anti-protest sentiment was real.
Around 5:00pm, one student demonstrator reportedly collapsed at the scene, and police began moving in to evacuate the crowd to break up fights between groups.