Hong Kong anti-extradition law protesters flocked to the city’s legislature on Friday morning, blocking roads around the government complex before surrounding police headquarters in Wan Chai as some moved east to Revenue Tower.

Student groups had vowed to escalate their actions if authorities did not answer to their demands by 5pm on Thursday. Clad in black, many stayed overnight at the rear of the legislature.

See also: Exclusive: Pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip ‘strongly condemns’ anti-extradition protesters as road occupations escalate

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Photo: InMediahk.net.

Addressing crowds outside police headquarters, pro-democracy lawmakers Lam Cheuk-ting and Au Nok-hin both said Secretary for Security John Lee and Police Commissioner Stephen Lo must step down after tear gas was unleashed against demonstrators last Wednesday.

“Stephen Lo cannot ignore the incidents since June 12 – we must insist on our demands: absolve arrested protesters, investigate police’s abuse of power,” Au said.

Demosistō’s Joshua Wong also addressed crowds, chanting “Stephen Lo, come out” and “John Lee, dialogue.”

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Joshua Wong rallies crowds outside police headquarters. Photo: InMediahk.net.

Senior superintendent Yu Hoi Kwan told reporters that there were no plans for a clearance operation as yet, but the occupation around their headquarters had affected the deployment of emergency services. She urged the crowd to disperse.

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Photo: Jennifer Creery/HKFP.

Jeers and chants of “release the righteous,” “retract,” and “shame on police thugs” were heard as crowds swelled.

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The government announced on Thursday night that the Central Government Offices would close on Friday due to “security considerations.”

Legislative meetings have also been cancelled.

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Anti-extradition occupation of the legislature on Friday, June 21. Photo: Jennifer Creery/HKFP.
”List of demands from student unions – click to view“

1. The complete withdrawal of the suspended extradition bill.

2. An investigation of the police force for police brutality in relation to the clashes last Wednesday.

3. A retraction of the characterisation of the protest last Wednesday as a “riot.”

4. Release and drop charges against protesters arrested.

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Photo: Jennifer Creery/HKFP.

The latest occupation comes after weeks of protests against legal amendments proposed in February to allow the city to handle case-by-case extradition requests from jurisdictions with no prior agreements – notably China.

Lawyersjournalistsforeign politicians and businesses have raised concerns over the risk of residents being extradited to the mainland, which lacks human rights protections.

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The bill was suspended until further notice last Saturday owing to recent unrest and at the request of pro-establishment lawmakers. Taiwan had also made it clear that it would not receive the murder suspect who triggered the proposal if the new law was pushed through.

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The moment protesters took Harcourt Road. Photo: HKFP.

Tsang Chui-mei, a 47-year-old visual artist, told HKFP she thought the extradition protests had become an opportunity to unite people from all walks of life: “All of the messages are from online. There is no single organiser or leader, it’s better this way,” she said. “All Hong Kong citizens have a right to ask for freedom.”

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Tsang Chui-mei, a 47-year-old visual artist. Photo: Jennifer Creery/HKFP.

Lance Yan, a 48-year-old illustrator, told HKFP he joined the protest on Friday to protect young protesters in case of clashes: “We have a responsibility to protect them so that they’re not alone,” he said.

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Protesters arrive at Revenue Tower.

Twenty-three-year-old Celia Lai, who works in marketing, told HKFP she attended the protest on Wednesday but considers herself a “coward” for failing to go to the front lines: “I want to do more this time,” she said.

“We don’t have a leader this time,” she said in reference to the 2014 Umbrella Movement led by student groups. “It’s more pure and self-motivated, and people are acting on their own will and they’re more determined.”

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Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.