Hong Kong officials told employees at central government offices to take Friday off after some workers said they couldn’t get past the barricades set up by protesters and into work. Friday was the first day of work following the two-day Chinese National Day holiday. The clashes were expected by some experts, who predicted that protesters would be met with resistance from Hong Kong residents if they continued to shut down the city on business days.

Protesters want democratic elections free from Chinese government interference in 2017, but the Chinese and Hong Kong governments refuse to give in to demands. The protests erupted after China said it would screen candidates for Hong Kong's chief executive position, which many see as breaking their promise of free elections made nearly 20 years ago.

Protesters vowed to occupy government buildings if Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying didn’t step down from his post by midnight Thursday, but Leung refused in a press conference just prior to the deadline, and a massive crowd swelled outside his government offices. Leung said Carrie Lam, his chief secretary of administration, would meet with protest leaders to negotiate a compromise.

The anti-climactic announcement created some disunity, with some protesters breaking off to block traffic, which other protesters saw as disrespectful. Many chanted “stay calm” to ease the emotions of their fellow protesters.

A crowd of Hong Kong residents upset with the protests clashed with a small group conducting a sit-in in the crowded Mong Kok district on Friday. The anti-Occupy crowd lambasted police for not breaking up the sit-in as law enforcement officials formed a human chain to keep the groups away from each other.

The Hong Kong Federation of Students, a leading group behind the protests, criticized the police for what they called a failure to protect protesters. The group urged supporters to leave Mong Kok and return to the Admiralty district peacefully.