Hong Kong protesters plan assemblies in 18 districts

Hong Kong protesters plan assemblies in 18 districts
Anti-government protesters setup a 4-meter tall statue "The Lady Liberty of Hong Kong", that symbolizes the city's recent democratic movement, was brought to Lion Rock, one of Hong Kong's iconic peaks Sunday morning in Hong Kong, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

HONG KONG (AP) — Black-clad protesters calling for political reforms have started gathering in several Hong Kong districts.

The demonstrators congregated Sunday in shopping malls in Sha Tin and Tseun Wan holding umbrellas and wearing masks in defiance of a recently imposed ban on face coverings.

They called on people to assemble simultaneously in 18 different districts — an apparent effort to divide up police resources. Baton-wielding riot police stood on a foot bridge in Tai Po.

The semi-autonomous Chinese city is in its fifth month of a movement that initially began in response to a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be tried for crimes in mainland China. The protests have since ballooned to encompass broader demands for electoral reforms and an inquiry into alleged police abuse.