Hong Kong protests cross half-year mark with rally

Hong Kong protests cross half-year mark with rally
A miniature figure wearing artist Guy Fawkes mask and a sign reading "Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times" is displayed during a rally against the use of tear gas by police in Hong Kong, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. Hong Kong police have fired more than 10,000 tear gas canisters to quell violent protests that have rocked the city for six months. Its heavy and prolonged use in Hong Kong — one of the world's most densely populated cities and known for its concrete jungle of high-rises — is unusual and has sparked health fears. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Marchers are again expected to fill Hong Kong streets Sunday in a rally that will test the enduring appeal of an anti-government movement marking a half year of demonstrations.

Police granted approval for the march, which could boost participation. A few hours before the mid-afternoon start, police announced they had found a pistol with more than 100 bullets that they believe was going to be used during the protest.

Eleven people were arrested, and daggers, swords, batons and pepper spray were also found in raids on three locations, public broadcaster RTHK reported.

The rally was called by the Civil Human Rights Front, a group that has organized some of the biggest demonstrations since hundreds of thousands of protesters first marched on June 9 against now-withdrawn government proposals that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts in mainland China.

The movement has snowballed from there into a sustained challenge to the government of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory and communist leaders in Beijing. Its demands have expanded to include fully democratic elections for the city’s leader and legislature and an investigation into what protesters say is excessive use of force by police against them.

A Communist Party official, meeting in Beijing on Saturday with Hong Kong’s new police commissioner, said that China would fully support the Hong Kong police’s strict law enforcement and “unremitting efforts in restoring social order,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported.