Police targets of both love and anger in Hong Kong rallies

Police targets of both love and anger in Hong Kong rallies
Protesters gather during a rally in Hong Kong, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. Hong Kong police said on Saturday that they have arrested three men for testing homemade explosives they suspect were intended for use during protests. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Several thousand people shouting words of thanks to the police turned out in Hong Kong on Sunday in an unusual display of support for a force broadly criticized as abusive by the territory’s protest movement.

People made heart signs with their hands at officers, with some calling them heroes for their policing of six months of demonstrations.

The rally attracted a bigger crowd than a protest against the government a few hundred meters (yards) away. It brought together a few hundred people in a square.

There were also scattered small protests against the government in shopping malls.

Tensions flared in one mall after police arrested about eight protesters. Police used pepper spray when people threw bottles of water at them.