HONG KONG – Hong Kong is experiencing another Saturday of protests, as the rallies enter their third month.
Police clashed with demonstrators and used tear gas to disperse the crowd outside a police station Saturday.
Protesters also cut down a “smart lamppost” because they feared it was being used for surveillance by Chinese authorities.
Hong Kong’s government said, however, that the lamppost only collected data on traffic, weather and air quality.
Protesters have called for an attempt Saturday to blockade routes to the city’s airport, which could disrupt the complex if large numbers turn out.
Last week, Hong Kong’s airport was forced to close when protesters occupied terminals. China called the behavior “near-terrorist acts” and some protesters later issued an apology.
Hong Kong police said Friday said the city’s high court extended an order restricting protests at the airport.
“Any person who unlawfully or willfully obstructs or interferes with the normal operation of the airport” is liable to face criminal charges, said Foo Yat-ting, the senior superintendent of Hong Kong Police Force’s Kowloon East Region.
Hong Kong’s Airport Authority also published a half-page notice in newspapers urging people to “love Hong Kong” and not to block the airport.
On Friday, thousands of Hong Kong protesters joined hands to form human chains in a peaceful protest, recreating a “Baltic Chain” that pro-democracy demonstrators used against the Soviet Union three decades ago.
Demonstrators linked hands or held their lighted phones above their heads, creating a line of lights against the night sky.
The “Baltic Chain” or “Baltic Way” was one of the largest anti-Soviet demonstrations, with more than one million people linking hands over 600 kilometers on August 23, 1989.
Saturday’s demonstration in Hong Kong is the latest in a weeks-long movement that began with calls to stop an extradition bill, which has now been scrapped, and has expanded to include demands for full democracy.
Also Saturday, the news emerged that China has released from custody an employee of the British consulate in Hong Kong.
Protesters had called for Simon Cheng’s release.
Cheng was allegedly arrested by Chinese police on the night of August 8 while traveling back to Hong Kong from a business trip. His whereabouts remained unknown for some time. China confirmed Wednesday that Cheng had been held for a 15-day administrative detention became of allegations of violating local laws.
He was arrested in Shenzhen, the mainland city neighboring Hong Kong.