Hong Kong police use pepper spray to clear May Day protest

HONG KONG: Hong Kong police used pepper spray on Friday night to disperse more than 100 protesters chanting and chanting pro-democracy slogans in a shopping mall.

Protesters sang the Glory to Hong Kong protest hymn and chanted Glory to Hong Kong, revolution of our times in the Hong Kong shopping mall.

When the protesters gathered, the police stopped and searched some and then told them to leave, saying they were violating the rules of social distancing. Police then used pepper spray as they dispersed the crowd before cordoning off the mall's atrium.

The protest was one of several small ones that took place on the May 1 Labor Day holiday despite rules prohibiting public gatherings of more than four people.

Protesters also gathered near Kowloon's Mong Kok and Kwun Tong metro stations.

It initially planned city-wide protests, but many were canceled, and organizers urged people to eat at pro-democracy restaurants rather than support them in times of economic crisis due to restrictions related to the coronavirus.

Friday's protests were the latest in a series of shopping malls over the past week. The arrest of 15 pro-democracy activists and former lawmakers follows last Saturday.

The protests are the continuation of a movement that started last June to protest an extradition bill that would have allowed detainees in Hong Kong to be transferred to mainland China. Although the bill was later withdrawn, protests continued for months before a hiatus that began in January when the coronavirus pandemic broke out.