Hong Kong faced a resurgence of anti-government protests in the wake of of an improving coronavirus situation, with a return to riot police pepper spraying demonstrators to disperse them in a shopping mall at the end of a largely peaceful Labour Day, it was reported on Saturday.
An expected return to larger protest chaos on the streets did not materialise on Friday, and officers who had fanned out across the city only had to contend with small groups and individuals to enforce a ban against public gatherings, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper said in a report.
However, protesters began to gather at the New Town Plaza at around 7 p.m .on Friday, singing “Glory to Hong Kong”, the anthem of the anti-government movement.
Police initially pushed them away and cordoned off the area, but had to resort to pepper spray later to disperse the crowd after small confrontations with protesters.
The appeal for flash mobs came after police denied unions permission to stage their traditional Labour Day rallies, citing risks to public health.
As an alternative, the opposition Confederation of Trade Unions (CTU) planned to set up more than 50 street booths around the city to promote workers’ rights.