The demolitions in Chaoyang district are only the latest of many. One person whose studio is threatened has been evicted four times already.
The artists say that some of them signed contracts for periods of up to 30 years and had spent a lot on improving the studios but had been in the Zhengyang and 008 zones for a matter of months before their landlords said the developers were moving in.
The group said that several of them had stayed at the sites on Sunday night because of concerns that people would try to demolish them overnight.
At 2am, about 100 men wearing black coats and white masks and armed with wooden and iron bars descended on the Zhengyang art zone, they said.
With his head wrapped in a blood-spotted bandage, Liu Yi described how a man grabbed his mobile phone as he rang the police. “When I tried to get it back, he got four or five people with sticks and iron bars to beat me. I fell down and he got other guys to watch over me so I couldn’t get away.”