Hong Kong police have called on protesters to stick to designated routes and times after violent clashes marred the last eight weekends of rallies calling for more freedoms and government accountability.
Police held a briefing ahead of a scheduled rally in Mong Kok, a bustling shopping district with a history of hosting pro-democracy protests.
Any demonstrations that are not pre-approved will be “cleared out” as unlawful assemblies, police said.
While the pro-democracy rallies have been largely peaceful, they have occasionally devolved into skirmishes with police after some protesters refused to disperse at assigned times.
In the past two months, demonstrators have vandalised buildings and thrown bricks, while police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets.
A former British colony, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 under the framework of “one country, two systems”. The city’s mini-constitution promises certain freedoms not afforded to those in the mainland, but people from Hong Kong say Beijing has chipped away at their autonomy in recent years.
Hong Kong residents have accused police of negligence after 44 people were injured last month in a mob attack that appeared to target protesters. Authorities said their resources are stretched due to the prolonged demonstrations.
Mong Kok, the site of Saturday’s protest, is one area where protesters set up a pro-democracy demonstration zone in 2014. Near the end of the Occupy Central protests, police officers descended on the site and tore down the metal barricades, bamboo and wooden planks protesters had used to block off key streets.