Pro-Democracy protesters throw back tear gas fired by the police in Hong Kong on Sunday. Manan Vatsyayana/AFP
Protesters spilled out into the streets in two parts of Hong Kong on Sunday, blocking traffic and setting up the latest potential showdowns with police.
A large group of mostly young protesters marched down the middle of Hennessey Road, a main shopping drag in the Causeway Bay area, as a rally was held in nearby Victoria Park. Many wore face masks to shield their identities, and a few had helmets. Others just carried backpacks over the black T-shirts that have become their uniform.
Across Victoria Harbour, protesters wearing gas masks and other protective gear gathered outside a police station in Cheung Sha Wan in Kowloon, where another march was underway. A few officers also wearing protective gear looked down at the protesters from above a tall wall around the station.
Police said in a statement that protesters were occupying Cheung San Wan Road in an "unauthorized assembly" and appealed to them to leave the area.
Hong Kong has seen nine weeks of protests with no end in sight. The movement's demands include the resignation of the city's leader, democratic elections, the release of those arrested in earlier protests and an investigation into police use of force against the protesters.
“There will still be citizens going out on the streets to protest, but we cannot control them and we do not have the authority to control them.
Banners at the rally in Victoria Park read "Give Hong Kong back to us" and "Withdraw the evil law," the latter a reference to an extradition bill that was the original spark for the protests. A large crowd sat under umbrellas, which are both a protest symbol in Hong Kong and protection from the summer heat.
Hannah Yu, an organizer, said the protest would provide a platform for people to rally peacefully. In what has become an established pattern, groups of protesters have taken over streets or besieged government buildings after largely peaceful marches and rallies earlier in the day.
"There will still be citizens going out on the streets to protest, but we cannot control them and we do not have the authority to control them," Yu said.
Police permitted the rally in Victoria Park but denied a request by organizers to also have a march in the eastern part of Hong Kong Island. Police also denied permission for the march in Kowloon, but protesters went ahead anyway.Associated Press
Out in numbers before the demonstration began, police intervened promptly when the rally turned into an impromptu march. Several units of police in riot gear were seen chasing protesters and several arrests were made.
Thousands of demonstrators, many wearing hard hats and gas masks, marched through the industrial Kwun Tong area, where they were blocked by dozens of riot police with shields and batons outside a police station.
Police have banned the march in the city's Kowloon district, citing concerns over public safety, and a court on Saturday said the destination of the march - the main railway interchange with mainland China - could be attacked and vandalised.
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