When the first wave of riot police swept into the southern Chinese "democracy village" of Wukan shortly after 3 a.m. Tuesday, some breaking through gates with wooden battering rams, frightened residents sounded gongs to raise the alarm.
The gongs are now silent, and for the first time in nearly three months, Wukan's streets are closed to protest as anti-riot squads seal the area and sever communications.
With dozens of villagers detained and arrested after running skirmishes with police, local authorities appear determined to keep it that way. That could finally end an extraordinary five-year-old experiment in grassroots democracy in an authoritarian state.
While villages across China conduct low-level elections under close Communist Party management, Wukan's followed an uprising in 2011 that forced local Party chiefs to back down under the glare of domestic and international media attention.
The fishing village in southeastern Guangdong was then in open rebellion over a land grab by local officials, who were forced to flee. A stand-off with police ended when residents were granted the right to hold secret ballots for its village leaders.
Over the following years, the early hope of the "Wukan Spring" evaporated as many of its new elected leaders were detained, pushed into exile or pressured to quit their posts.