The Hong Kong police have banned a pro-democracy protest march planned for Saturday in Mong Kok, only allowing protesters to gather in a park.

The march was originally meant to start at Anchor Street Playground and end at MacPherson Playground about a kilometre away.

On Thursday, police informed one of the organisers Steve Ng that the march was banned, but protesters could gather at Anchor Street Playground as long as they stay there.

It was the third time in recent weeks that police banned a protest – after the marches proposed for Yuen Long last Saturday and for Hong Kong Island last Sunday were restricted.

July 7 Sunday anti-extradition protest Mong Kok Tsim Sha Tsui Nathan Road
Riot police in Mong Kok on July 7. Photo: May James.

In their letter to Ng, police said that Mong Kok had a lot of foot traffic and tourists, and the district had many older buildings and flammable built-up objects, such as the “pai dong” street stalls.

If violent conflicts occur, it will seriously threaten the life and property of residents and tourists, and any obstruction of roads will affect the nearby fire stations and Kwong Wah Hospital, police said.

Police also told Ng that recent protest events resulted in serious injuries to participants, journalists and police officers, and saw large-scale damage to public property. The force said it had reason to believe that he will not be able to control the behaviour of protesters.

July 7 Sunday anti-extradition protest Mong Kok Tsim Sha Tsui Nathan Road
Photo: May James.

Ng told local media that he was seeking legal advice about an appeal and would give an update by Thursday evening.

Separately, political group Politihk Social Strategic has applied to host a pro-police rally at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay on Saturday afternoon.

The city has been rocked by over two months of protests against the now-suspended extradition bill, would allow case-by-case fugitive transfers to jurisdictions with no prior arrangments, including China. Protests since June have since morphed into wider displays of dissent over dwindling freedoms, democracy, alleged police brutality and other community grievances

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.