Hong Kong police on Saturday fired tear gas and swung batons at protesters who defied authorities' warnings not to march in a neighborhood where six days earlier a mob apparently targeting demonstrators brutally attacked people in a train station. Protesters wearing black streamed through the Yuen Long district, even though police refused to grant permission for the march, citing risks of confrontations between demonstrators and local residents, the AP reports. For the protesters, it was a show of defiance against the white-clad assailants who beat dozens of people last Sunday night, including some demonstrators heading home after the latest mass protest in the Chinese territory's summer-long pro-democracy movement. Police said some of the attackers at the train station were connected to triad gangs and others were villagers who live in the area.
Less than three hours after the start of the march, police fired tear gas to try to disperse crowds that had ignored authorities' appeals to leave the area. Officers in riot gear faced off with protesters using wooden sheets as shields. Live footage from broadcaster RTHK showed protesters on one street forcing back riot police by throwing umbrellas and waving rods at them. A group of officers appeared with batons and held up banners that read "Stop charging or we use force." At least one woman was knocked down when police used the rods. Massive demonstrations began in Hong Kong in early June against an extradition bill that would have allowed suspects to face trial in mainland China, where critics say their rights would be compromised. The bill was eventually suspended, but protesters' demands have grown to include direct elections, the dissolution of the current legislature, and an investigation into alleged police brutality. (Read more Hong Kong stories.)