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Riot police carry out a crowd dispersal operation as they charge in a shopping mall on May 1, 2020 in Hong Kong.

Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Hong Kong police used pepper spray Friday night to disperse more than 100 protesters singing and chanting pro-democracy slogans in a shopping mall.

The demonstrators sang the protest anthem “Glory to Hong Kong” and chanted “Glory to Hong Kong, revolution of our times” in the New Town Plaza mall in Hong Kong’s New Territories.

As the protesters gathered, police stopped and searched some and later told them to leave, saying they were violating coronavirus social-distancing rules. The police then used pepper spray while dispersing the crowd before cordoning off the atrium of the mall.

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The protest was one of several small ones that went ahead on the May 1 Labor Day holiday despite rules that forbid public gatherings of more than four people.

Protesters also gathered near Kowloon’s Mong Kok and Kwun Tong subway stations.

Organizers initially planned city-wide protests but many were cancelled, with the organizers urging people to eat at pro-democracy restaurants instead to support them as business slumps because of coronavirus-related restrictions.

Friday’s protests were the latest in a string of demonstrations at shopping malls over the past week. They follow the arrest of 15 pro-democracy activists and former lawmakers last Saturday.

The demonstrations are a continuation of a movement that began last June to protest an extradition bill that would have allowed detainees in Hong Kong to be transferred to mainland China. Although the bill was later withdrawn, the demonstrations continued for months before a lull starting in January as the coronavirus pandemic broke out.

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