The crowd that continued protesting in Ketagalan Boulevard after the end of Saturday's massive rally was finally dispersed by the Taipei Police Bureau at 5:25am yesterday morning.
Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who ordered the police to act, said the exercise was successful as there had been no violence and nobody was injured in the process.
"I ordered the police to by no means use batons to beat the people who gathered in front of the presidential office building," Ma said.
PHOTO: LIN CHENG-KUNG, TAIPEI TIMES
He stressed that it was he who had ordered the police to disperse the crowd.
"I never balked from dealing with the protesters. I just waited for the most opportune moment to disperse them," Ma said.
Only a few people suffered slight abrasions in the process and many of them left the scene voluntarily, Ma said.
After President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on Saturday night demanded that Ma shoulder his responsibility as mayor of the capital and to disperse the crowd "without using double standards," the Taipei Police Bureau deployed about 800 riot police.
The first deployment began at around 3am yesterday morning. The police, including female officers, squatted or bent down in the rain in front of the crowd in an effort to persuade the people to go home of their own accord.
Many people yelling slogans and singing the national anthem refused to leave and a few skirmished with police.
A second unsuccessful effort was made at about 4am when around 300 people were still lingering in front of the Presidential Office. This was followed by the full contingent of near 800 riot-control police wearing helmets and shields mopping up the remnants of the crowd at 5:25am.
After Bureau Director of Police Wang Cho-chun (王卓鈞) issued the command, the police first tried to persuade the crowd to leave of their own accord. They then carried away, one by one, protesters who refused to leave.
While the police were carrying out orders, the call to remain calm and rational was repeated over a powerful loudspeaker.
At about 7am yesterday morning, Ketagalan Boulevard was completely cleared, with only about 200 people remaining at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to continue the protest.
"I can't go on anymore. I have to go home today. I am just too tired," said a woman only identified by her surname, Liao, sitting on the stairs of the National Concert Hall.
She said that she would not adhere to a call by lawmakers of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to keep up the protest for the next few weeks.
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