The area outside the Ming Pao headquarters in Chai Wan was a sea of black yesterday as scores of employees condemned Wednesday's violent chopping of their former chief editor, Kevin Lau Chun-to, and pledged to fight for "freedom from fear".
In a symbolic gesture, the Chinese-language newspaper changed its masthead colour from red to a sombre black in yesterday's editions.
Two other rallies saw concerned Hongkongers gather at government headquarters in Admiralty and the Chinese University campus in Sha Tin.
Watch: Hong Kong media vow not to be intimidated after attack
Staff members were emotional and distraught, said Sin Wan-kei of the Ming Pao staff concern group.
She said some were even spooked by passing motorcycles, since it was a pillion passenger who had lunged at Lau with a chopper in Sai Wan Ho, inflicting a 16cm wound on his back so deep it exposed his chest cavity and vital organs.
"We are heartbroken. We want to know if Hong Kong is still a safe city," Sin said.
The employees, holding up copies of the day's paper, were decked out fully in black, except for the blue ribbons they wore to raise awareness about the "suppression" of media freedom.
"We dress in black today to fight for freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom from fear," Sin said. "We may feel afraid, but we will not back down. We will continue to stand our ground."
Her group will begin a signature campaign today to rally support for press freedom and will attend a demonstration organised by the Journalists Association on Sunday.
Association chairwoman Sham Yee-lan said they would march from the government offices in Admiralty to police headquarters in Wan Chai.
"The plan is to show that the news industry is against violence," she said.
At the government complex, at least 200 protesters - mainly students - denounced the attack and called for the safeguarding of media freedom.
The protesters were dressed in black and lit candles in protest.
Organiser Kelvin Shum Ka-chun, an economics undergraduate at the University of Hong Kong, said the city had slipped into a bad state. "I want society and the government to be more vigilant about this dangerous situation," he said.
Loretta Wong Wai-kwan, a public-health-care worker, said she was there to take a stand against "a direct attack on freedoms of the press and of speech".
"We should think what kind of a city we want to leave behind for future generations."
Hundreds of students and staff rallied at Chinese University to condemn the attack.