HONG KONG - Hong Kong protesters flooded the city's streets Sunday in defiance of a ban by the authorities on their march, setting up roadblocks and tossing firebombs amid the firing of tear gas by police.
Protest leaders carried a black banner at the front of the procession that read, "Five main demands, not one less,'' as they pressed their calls for accountability and political rights.
Police had beefed up security measures for the unauthorized rally, the latest in the unrest that has disrupted life in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory since early June.
Black-clad and masked protesters barricaded streets at multiple locations in Kowloon, where the city's subway operator restricted passenger access. A firebomb was tossed at one subway station.
Police fired tear gas after gasoline bombs were thrown toward one subway station as tens of thousands of demonstrators marched down a main road with traffic at a standstill. They sang the protest movement's anthem and held up placards depicting the Chinese flag as a Nazi swastika.
Matthew lee, a university student, said he was determined to keep protesting even after more than four months.
"I can see some people want to give up, but I don't want to do this because Hong Kong is my home, we want to protect this place, protect Hong Kong," he said. "You can't give up because Hong Kong is your home."
Supporters of the movement gathered at the rally's starting point on a waterfront promenade. Many wore masks in defiance of a recently introduced ban on face coverings at public gatherings, and volunteers handed more out to the crowd.
Organizers said they wanted to use their right to protest, as guaranteed by the city's constitution despite the risk of arrest.
"We're using peaceful, rational, nonviolent way to voice our demands," Figo Chan, vice convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, told reporters. "We're not afraid of being arrested. What I'm most scared of is everyone giving up on our principles."
The group has organized some of the movement's biggest protest marches. One of its leaders, Jimmy Sham, was attacked Wednesday by assailants wielding hammers.
Police on Saturday arrested a 22-year-old man on suspicion of stabbing a teenage activist distributing leaflets near a wall plastered with pro-democracy messages. A witness told local broadcaster RTHK that the assailant shouted afterward that Hong Kong is "a part of China" and other pro-Beijing messages.
The movement sprang out of opposition to a government proposal for a China extradition bill and then ballooned into broader demands for full democracy and an inquiry into alleged police brutality.