Police were on hand to assist bailiffs working under a court order to remove obstructions from the site, which activists have occupied for nearly two months. It said police are authorized to arrest anyone obstructing the bailiffs.
Workers in white hard hats and gloves moved wooden pallets and other junk into the middle of an intersection to be taken away in a truck that pulled up. Dozens of police and bailiffs watched the operation, and there was no immediate resistance from protesters.
Protesters have been camped out on major thoroughfares in three areas of Hong Kong since Sept. 28 demanding greater democracy. The standoff has continued with no end in sight as neither the government nor the student-led protesters have shown any willingness to compromise.
A crowd of people supporting the police clearance operation applauded from the sidelines.
Businessman Andrew Tang said he travelled across Victoria Harbor to watch the barricade removal. He said the protesters were not realistic in their demands to China's communist rulers in Beijing and miscalculated by not withdrawing earlier.
"The Communist Party will never surrender," he said as he gave a thumbs up to the police.
The barricade clearances come at a critical phase for the protest movement, as student leaders run out of options, and public support and the number of demonstrators dwindle.
The operation on Tuesday is being carried out after Hong Kong's High Court granted a restraining order to a minibus company requiring protesters to leave one of the occupied Mong Kok streets. A separate court order granted to taxi drivers to clear another Mong Kok street is expected to be enforced on Wednesday.