Tear gas was deployed in the New Territories town of Tai Wai on Saturday evening, after anti-government demonstrators defied a police ban on the weekend’s protests and marched on nearby Tai Po.
The organiser of the Tai Po march, preacher Roy Chan, announced earlier that he would not press on with the event after police refused to issue a letter of no objection.
However, activists began to gather at around 1pm at Tai Po bus station, the planned starting point.
Some protesters originally intended to go to Kowloon’s Wong Tai Sin – where another planned march was banned – but they relocated to Tai Po.
In Wong Tai Sin on Friday night, police arrested five people who had been “burning offerings to ghosts” on the occasion of the traditional Chinese ghost festival in a satirical protest against the authorities.
The Tai Po protesters chanted slogans such as “our five demands must all be fulfilled,” referring to the complete withdrawal of the ill-fated extradition bill, the retraction of “riot” characterisation of protests, an investigation into police violence, the release of all protesters, and universal suffrage.
Other slogans included “liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” – the slogan used by jailed activist Edward Leung during his 2016 election campaign – as activists blocked roads with makeshift barricades.
The marchers passed through Kwong Fuk Road Football Ground, the original endpoint, but did not stop. Police officers gathered at the intersection between Tai Po Road and Nam Wan Road, guarding the Tai Po police station.
The police then raised a blue flag, warning protesters that they were participating in an unauthorised march.
Protesters chanted “triads” and “rubbish” at the police, accusing them of alleged collusion with triad gangsters.
Jason, a university graduate who joined the protest, told HKFP he was not certain about how the march will end, but wanted to come in support.
“The police banned the march, and now we are just marching peacefully, and riot police officers are still deployed,” he said. “We have lost our freedom to protest, it’s getting more and more like China.”
He said he wished for the protests to end soon, but the government had to first respond to the five demands.
Another protester, who wished to remain anonymous said he wore blue clothing to show some support for the police, but wanted officers to look at themselves in the mirror.
“Sometimes it’s hard for them to tell what kind of atrocities they have been committing,” he said. “I wanted to give them a chance.”
People Power party lawmaker Ray Chan, who was monitoring the police action on the frontlines, said the heavier the presence of the police, the stronger the reaction from the protesters: “First of all, the police have to exercise restraint, then nothing will happen.”
At around 5:30pm, some protesters decided to move to Tai Wai station to continue the protests, after fearing being surrounded by the police. Others decided to move to Shatin’s New Town Plaza.
In Tai Wai, protesters began to create roadblocks shortly after 6pm at the roundabout outside the MTR Station.
Roadblocks were also set up in Shatin, but police quickly responded to remove them.
At around 7pm – an hour after roadblocks were set up in Tai Wai – riot police fired tear gas and advanced on the protesters.
The police force’s special tactical unit was also deployed.
Some protesters threw Molotov cocktails at police lines and set fires within the makeshift barricades.
Simultaneously, some protesters briefly halted traffic at Hung Hom’s Cross-Harbour Tunnel, before dispersing.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said she will make no concessions and urged the public to focus on the economy.
Beijing has deemed the Hong Kong protests as “colour revolution” to overthrow the government.
It said it would not rule out intervention.
The Hong Kong Federation of Fujian Associations launched an event on Saturday urging the “riots” to be stopped.