Thousands of people turned out on Saturday to show support for Hong Kong police after Beijing gave the embattled force a strong vote of confidence over recent unrest in the city. The rally’s organiser, pro-establishment group Politihk Social Strategic, estimated 90,000 people attended the “Give Peace A Chance” event on the central lawn of Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, while police said attendance peaked at 26,000. The event came a day after state media ran interviews with three representatives of Hong Kong police associations, who insisted police could handle the protests rocking the city and had thus far used only minimal force. State broadcaster CCTV covered the rally in its evening news bulletin, saying the event was “peacefully conducted with music”, and featuring several interviews with Mandarin-speaking participants. People at the rally differed on whether the government should set up an independent inquiry into recent clashes between police and protesters. But most showed overwhelming support for pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, who has become a hate figure for demonstrators taking to the streets over the now-abandoned extradition bill. Ho said there was no need to organise any revolution in the city and praised local police for being tolerant during the unrest. He rejected claims that the force – dubbed “black cops” on marches – was corrupt. “Some people have hidden agendas and have demonised the bill. That made those who are educated most in Hong Kong, our university students, suddenly become illiterate,” he said. The controversial legislation would have allowed extradition of criminal suspects to jurisdictions with which Hong Kong has no formal agreement, including mainland China, where critics say fair trials are not guaranteed. Ho faced a political scandal when he was filmed shaking hands with white-clad men and thanking them on July 21, after a large crowd of men in the same attire indiscriminately attacked travellers, some of them protesters, in Yuen Long, injuring at least 45 people. But he could rely on the support of the crowd at the rally, who sang along as he gave a rendition of classic Canto-pop song Below the Lion Rock from the stage, some waving Chinese and Hong Kong flags. A Lei Yue Mun restaurant owner also took to the stage to tell the crowd about intimidatory tactics by unknown antagonists after she put up pro-police posters. Eddie Chu ‘received death threats from triads’ amid row with rival Kate Lee Hoi-wu, boss at Ngan Loong Cafe, said government officers told her complaints had been filed against the restaurant, alleging she hired illegal workers and that the food made people ill. “Many people have said businesspeople should not be at the front line. But I just tell myself, stand with conscience,” she said. She backed an independent inquiry into recent clashes, saying police did not mishandle the protests. In the crowd, Kenny Chan wore a white T-shirt bearing the words “Safeguard home” and “Safeguard law”. “Those rioters attacked police. They have no point,” said the technician in his 50s. Chan said he would only support an independent inquiry that would fairly investigate both police and protesters. But So Xiuchun, 55, who had taken her 10-year-old granddaughter to the rally, would not back such an investigation. “I support the police and the government,” she said. Tang Tak-shing, chairman of Politihk Social Strategic, said he was satisfied with the rally’s impact, praising it as orderly and peaceful. “I hope the whole of Hong Kong can express themselves via this manner. Clashes are not necessary,” he said.