Hundreds of Thousands Protest in Hong Kong as Movement Nears Half-Year Mark

Chanting "Five Demands, Not One Less", protesters of all ages and walks of life raised their outstretched palms as the vast crowd spilled out of Victoria Park and slowly flowed down Hennessy Road and Queensway into Central, the heart of Hong Kong's financial district.

The police has in recent months banned many protests and rallies in Hong Kong, citing safety concerns. Protesters spilled into narrow side streets, crying "Revolution in our times".

The rally, which received rare police permission, comes two weeks after pro-establishment parties got a drubbing in local elections, shattering government claims that a "silent majority" opposed the protests.

One protester crawled part of the route prostrated on her hands and knees, dragging bricks and empty soda cans behind her.

"This is just the beginning".

Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, raising funds for victims of police brutality in the six-month movement, said to a crowd: "We want our freedoms back so our young people can regain the freedom from fear".

Among the major demands of the protest movement are dropping charges against demonstrators arrested unfairly and investigating the use of force by police officers.

The protest comes two weeks after democratic candidates secured nearly 90% of 452 district council seats in local elections that saw a record turnout, posing a fresh conundrum for Beijing and piling pressure on Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam.

Marchers said they hoped the huge turnout might help win concessions from the government of Chief Executive Carrie Lam. Protesters spanned generations.

"So many people are still supporting this movement".

The police actually scored lower than the Hong Kong garrison of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), although pollsters said every agency except the Auxiliary Medical Service saw a significant decline in approval compared to previous year.

"I heard a small kid yelling slogans - 4, 5 years old", Ng said.

"So for the protesting of tomorrow, I really hope that it will be conducted in a peaceful manner", stated Tang.

Hours before the march was due to kick off, police displayed weapons, including a pistol and knives, they said had been found during overnight raids where eleven people were arrested.

While the march appeared to be largely peaceful-in marked contrast to other mass demonstrations over the last six months, where protesters fought pitched battles with police-authorities said there was some damage after it ended.

"Some rioters spray-painted the exterior walls of the High Court, threw petrol bombs and set fire outside the High Court and the Court of Final Appeal, damaging government properties and seriously challenging the spirit of the rule of law", police said, adding that shops and banks were vandalized in the Causeway Bay and Wan Chai areas. It is the organization's first rally to be approved by police since August.

800,000 people joined a pro-democracy march in on Sunday.

Police also arrested 12 people on Monday suspected of preparing gasoline bombs.

Unlike numerous recent protests which had been banned by police, the march on Sunday had a relaxed atmosphere and protesters were in high spirits.

The protests started in June over a controversial extradition bill, and have now evolved into broader anti-government demonstrations.

"They are out of control", said Ernest Yau, a 28-year-old consultant.

One of the protesters' main demands is to elect Hong Kong's chief executive by universal suffrage, instead of through the current, Beijing-controlled selection process.

"We hope that this is just an overreaction to current events and that global business can constructively forge ahead", Joseph said. "We understand that we have to be united to fight against China, to fight against a government that doesn't listen to its people".



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