Hundreds of protesters have surrounded the headquarters for Hong Kong’s Department of Justice, demanding that riot charges laid against five people who took part in the June 12 protests be withdrawn. Roads around the building have also been occupied.
The rally began early today, June 27, and by 10am protestors had encircled Justice Place in the Central district, while police officers patrolled and monitored the area. Some officers were armed with riot shields. Secretary of Justice Teresa Cheng had just entered the building before the protesters showed up.
Protesters were led by the young activist Joshua Wong and his entourage from the Demosisto political party.
A group of police formed a chain to prevent protesters from moving further into the area. Protesters were chanting their demands and some had brought musical instruments to add some color to their plea.
Citizens walking past the area were stopped and questioned by patrolling officers.
At 12:47pm, the protesters moved to the main entrance of Justice Place, but police stopped them from entering. Officers declared that individuals crossing the perimeter set by the police would be arrested immediately.
Due to the overwhelming number of people, a group of protesters had to move towards Lower Albert Road. Some of them took the initiative to help guide the traffic.
By 4.40pm local time, there were still hundreds of protesters massed outside the Justice headquarters, demanding the withdrawal of the “riot” charges, which carry serious penalties – up to 10 years in prison.
On June 12, hundreds of police clashed with tens of thousands of protesters outside the government headquarters, demanding the withdrawal of an amendment of an extradition bill, which would allow people to be sent to the mainland.
In the aftermath of the protests that saw police fire rubber bullets and tear-gas at the crowd, five individuals were arrested on charges of inciting a riot.
The police have since been blasted for excessive use of force by citizens as well as humanitarian organizations around the world.
And Chief Executive Carrie Lam has apologized for upsetting the public – after about two million people took to the streets on June 16 against the extradition law change.