Skirmishes broke out in a shopping mall in Kowloon Bay on Saturday, as pro-China groups attacked passers-by and vandalised pro-democracy “Lennon Walls” in several neighbourhoods.

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Amoy Plaza. Photo: StandNews.

At around 2pm, pro-Beijing groups waved Chinese national flags at Kowloon Bay’s Amoy Plaza and sang the national anthem. About an hour later, clashes broke out between the group and pro-democracy demonstrators.

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Pro-China supporters at Amoy Plaza. Photo: Stand News.

Riot police arrived at around 3:30pm and arrested several young men wearing black facemasks. Those carrying the Chinese national flags were not taken away, Stand News reported.

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Pro-China and pro-police supporters in Amoy Plaza. Photo: Stand News.

According to RTHK, the police action was criticised by mall-goers, who questioned why officers did not also arrest those who carried Chinese flags but were involved in the clashes.

Amoy Plaza scuffles
An elderly from “Protect the Children” stood between mall-goers and police officers. Photo: Chau Ho Man/USP United Social Press.

Members of the senior citizen group Protect the Children showed up and attempted to prevent officers from advancing into the mall area.

amoy plaza scuffles
Scuffles broke out between pro-China and pro-democracy supporters in Amoy Plaza. Photo: Stand News.

A man, who identified himself as a resident nearby, told journalists that his son was taken away by police during the chaos.

“My son came to the mall only to buy food and other things, how is his arrest possible? I don’t know what happened. [The police] did not explain to me what happened,” he said, visibly upset. “Are the police arresting anyone as long as they are young?”

The city’s shopping centres have become the site of nightly gatherings of anti-government demonstrators throughout the week, with hundreds singing protest songs and chanting slogans.

Lennon Walls targeted

Pro-China groups were also seen vandalising pro-democracy “Lennon Wall” message boards on Saturday in other local neighbourhoods, including at Kowloon Bay, Fortress Hill, Hang Hau and Tiu Keng Leng.

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A Lennon Wall in Hang Hau was vandalised.

In Hang Hau, a man who was filming the action of pro-China supporters was assaulted by five men, leading to injuries to his leg and damage to his glasses, Apple Daily reported.

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The injured man at Lennon Wall in Hang Hau. Photo: Internet.

Over on Hong Kong Island, a group of people wearing blue walked down the street carrying the Chinese national flags and singing the Chinese national anthem in North Point. In nearby Fortress Hill, a passer-by was assaulted by some of the men as they passed.

Separately, around 30 people waved the Chinese flags on Lion Rock on Saturday morning, hours after thousands of Hongkongers formed a human chain on the iconic mountain to show solidarity with pro-democracy protesters.

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Pro-China supporters waved the Chinese national flags on Lion Rock, with a banner hoisted earlier calling for full democracy beneath them. Photo: Stand News.

A pro-democracy banner left by demonstrators on Friday was still visible as the pro-Beijing groups staged their protest.

Meanwhile, around 500 pro-democracy activists gathered in Tin Shui Wai on Saturday afternoon. A pro-democracy rally was originally planned but was banned by the police earlier.

As riot police blocked parts of the roads in the area, a standoff between activists and officers ensued. A police press release just before 7pm warned protesters “to stop their illegal acts and leave the scene immediately.”

Sham Shui Po became as flashpoint as the evening wore on. At around 6pm, police surrounded and searched a popular pop-up shop selling protective gear to protesters.

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Police searched a pop-up shop selling protective gear. Photo: Stand News screenshot.

Secondary students rally

Earlier on Saturday, hundreds of people attended a rally organised by secondary school students outside Edinburgh Place in Central. They shared their experience and wrote messages of solidarity on a makeshift Lennon Wall.

On stage, a secondary school student in a protective gas mask said she was grateful to her father, who is a police officer, for not stopping her from taking part in the protests.

“I believe there are good cops. My father gets upset at TVB every day,” she said, in reference to how the broadcaster portrays the protests, entering their 15th week.

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A secondary school student whose father is a police officer shared her thoughts on the protests. screenshot.

A parent said on stage that the Education Bureau’s condemnations of – and some schools’ threats against – class boycott action show that the government is now suppressing peaceful forms of expression.

Edinburgh Place Hong Kong Goddess of Liberty
The “Hong Kong Goddess of Liberty” at Edinburgh Place. Photo: HKFP.

Hong Kong has been shaken by nearly 15 consecutive weeks of large-scale protests, sparked by a soon-to-be-withdrawn bill, which would have allowed local authorities to transfer fugitives to their mainland counterparts.

See more: Hongkongers light up city’s mountaintops with protest demands during lantern festival

The demonstrations have since morphed into sometimes violent display against Beijing’s encroachment, alleged police excessive use of force and other community grievances. Activists also call for full democracy.

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Lion Rock on Friday. Photo: Team CBB.

On Friday, a WeChat article from Beijing’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission said Hong Kong’s youth faced issues with employment, salaries and housing, but they should not to look abroad for answers: “[T]hey ought widen their horizons and not lock themselves in the local environment of ‘Hong Kong people’ and the ‘Cantonese-speaking’ world. They should look north.”

Over 1,100 people have been arrested in relation to the protests. At least a hundred have been charged with various crimes, including rioting and taking part in an unlawful assembly.

More pro-China actions may take place in the coming days. On Friday, pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho urged followers on Facebook to “clean up Hong Kong’s 18 districts” next Saturday, September 21. Though Ho did not specify whether Lennon Walls would be targeted, he asked people to “tear down trash that affects the cityscape and clean the walls.”

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Hong Kong Free Press is a new, non-profit, English-language news source seeking to unite critical voices on local and national affairs. Free of charge and completely independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development.