Protesters used metal barricades to smash windows at the legislative council building. It is unclear how many were able to enter the facility.
About 100 riot police responded using pepper spray and batons. At least four protesters were arrested. Three police were injured in the clashes.
The area was calm later Wednesday, though the government said in a statement that some activities at the parliament building were canceled.
The incident was a departure from the usual peaceful behavior by the mainly student activists, who have occupied several areas for nearly two months.
Several pro-democracy lawmakers and protest leaders condemned the attempted break-in, including Civic Party leader Alan Leong, who encouraged demonstrators to stick to non-violent principles.
«They are completely against the principle of fighting for genuine universal suffrage in the spirit of peace and non-violence,» Leong said. «This has negative effects for the Umbrella Movement. We are heart-broken. We call upon all Hong Kong people who fight for true universal suffrage to not forget our original intentions.»
Protest site partially cleared
On Tuesday, protesters stood by peacefully as authorities cleared part of a protest site occupied by demonstrators since late September.
Acting on a court order, bailiffs dismantled street barricades in a section of the Admiralty district near government headquarters. Some of the protesters had already moved their tents and other belongings to a nearby site that police have left alone.
Also Tuesday, a co-founder of the Occupy movement, Chan Kin Man, called on occupiers to concentrate at government headquarters and the Legislative Council. In doing so, Chan said protesters should try to reduce the interference on people’s livelihoods and strive for additional public support for their quest to mount a long-term democratic movement.
Several protesters from occupied areas at Admiralty told VOA that while they respect his advice, he does not represent them.
“I think it has nothing to do with our decision upon whether to vacate or not,» said a woman who only wanted to be identified by her family name, He.
Last week, a Hong Kong court ordered protesters to clear the area, as well as a site in the Mong Kok district across the harbor from Admiralty.
The demonstrators have been calling for fully democratic elections in 2017. They took to the streets after China ruled in August that all candidates for chief executive must first be approved by a committee that is stacked with pro-Beijing loyalists.