The gathering Sunday was one of the biggest demonstrations of opposition to the government since China imposed a draconian national-security law on June 30. Plans for the protest had circulated earlier in the week on social media, and police were ready with a large presence.
Reflecting the risks, the protesters were somewhat camouflaged by dressing as ordinary shoppers, rather than in black, as they did last year. As police looked on, they would chant familiar slogans such as “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” and some threw items such as water bottles and umbrellas at police as they made arrests or regrouped at an intersection.
But in the large crowd, and with everyone wearing masks because of the coronavirus, it was difficult to be sure who was chanting and who was shopping.
Police in riot gear who had descended on the Mong Kok neighborhood charged into the crowd to grab suspected protesters, occasionally firing pepper balls or pepper spray to clear the way. For several hours Sunday afternoon, groups of very young Hong Kong residents stood detained on street corners.
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