The Civil Human Rights Front has organised a rally today at Victoria Park from 2pm to 11pm. They have been issued a letter of no objection for the gathering but police have refused their request for a march to take place. The five demands for this event remain largely the same, namely the full withdrawal of the now suspended extradition bill, withdrawing the classification of recent protests as “riots”, full amnesty for arrested protesters, an independent inquiry into allegedly excessive use of force by police, and universal suffrage for Hong Kong elections.
Today’s rally comes after a day of mostly peaceful demonstrations on Saturday. Teachers participated in a Professional Teachers’ Union-organised march from Chater Garden to Government in support of their students, while a pro-government rally was held at Tamar Park by the Safeguard Hong Kong Alliance.
There was also an anti-government march on the Kowloon side from To Kwa Wan to Hung Hung, which ended in a brief stand-off as a small group of protesters went to Mong Kok Police and threw eggs and pointed laser beams at officers. They dispersed when riot police showed up, and engaged in a cat-and-mouse chase around Mong Kok as the night wore on, but did not escalate actions. No tear gas was used.
Follow us here as we provide live coverage of today’s large-scale event.
[UPDATE - August 18, 7.48pm]
That concludes our live coverage of today's events. For continuing coverage, please head to the South China Morning Post's live blog here.
[UPDATE - August 18, 7.34pm]
[UPDATE - August 18, 7.18pm]
Some protesters turn on their phone lights on the connecting bridge between Pacific Place and United Centre in Admiralty. Others march by below.
[UPDATE - August 18, 7.04pm]
[UPDATE - August 18, 6.55pm]
Some protesters chant slogans as they march by Hong Kong Police headquarters in Wan Chai but they keep walking. No seiges today.
[UPDATE - August 18, 6.14pm]
Meanwhile, the streets around Victoria Park are still full of people, as most are making their way west towards Admiralty and Central. Victoria Park itself is less crowded now, though it is still roughly three quarters full.
[UPDATE - August 18, 5.49pm]
A handful of police officers stand guard at government headquarters behind water-filled barriers that are six feet high. Meanwhile, the stream of protesters arriving from the east seem endless.
[UPDATE - August 18, 5.39pm]
[UPDATE - August 18, 5.02pm]
In Wan Chai, the sea of protesters parts to make way for an ambulance. Earlier this week, some protesters were criticised for disrupting rescue operations at the airport.
[UPDATE - August 18, 5.02pm]
The majority of protesters are walking towards Admiralty. Both lanes of Harcourt Road outside Pacific Place are occupied. However, some are going in the reverse direction, heading back to Causeway Bay.
Even as the head of the march has arrived at Charter Garden, streams show Victoria Park and Gloucester Road which runs alongside the park are still full of people holding umbrellas.
[UPDATE - August 18, 4.49pm]
Protesters walk westbound on Lockhart Road too. So far, they are walking down Hennesy, Lockhart and Gloucester Roads to get to Admiralty. Even though according the police letter of no objection, the rally was supposed to be confined to Victoria Park.
[UPDATE - August 18, 4.38pm]
A police source has confirmed to the South China Morning Post that two of the force's three anti-riot vehicles – which are equipped with water cannons – are on standby at a secret site on Hong Kong Island.
[UPDATE - August 18, 4.33pm]
Major Hong Kong island thoroughfare Gloucester Road has also been partly taken over by protesters. Some are walking towards Victoria Park to join the original rallying point.
[UPDATE - August 18, 4.25pm]
The front of the impromptu march has reached Admiralty. Former Legco member "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and pro-democracy media boss Jimmy Lai Chee-ying of Apple Daily are also outside Pacific Place shopping mall.
[UPDATE - August 18, 4.19pm]
[UPDATE - August 18, 4.05pm]
Crowds are slowly trickling out of Victoria Park as the rain subsides. Yee Wo Street is packed with people as they try to move in the direction of Wan Chai.
[UPDATE - August 18, 3.53pm]
Some protesters are marching towards Wan Chai, even though police refused applications for a march and have only approved a stationary rally at Victoria Park.
[UPDATE - August 18, 3.45pm]
The Hong Kong Observatory says that a band of thundery showers is moving across Hong Kong. Winds reaching 90km/h or more may continue to affect Hong Kong. Updates at the HKO website.
[UPDATE - August 18, 3.16pm]
Anti-government protesters have completely filled up Victoria Park and are now making their way out of the park and plan to head toward Wan Chai and Central. It is raining heavily.
[UPDATE - August 18, 3.10pm]
Another view how just how packed Victoria Park is, from the Tai Hang Road bridge.
[UPDATE - August 18, 2.55pm]
A booth manned by students advocating a student strike from school in September has been set up on Great George Street in Causeway Bay. The sign says, "September school strike. Anti-police violence. Advocate for Professional Teachers Union general strike."
A student at the booth surnamed Lo said, "With how intense the social movements have become after suppression by the government and the actions by 'black cops', we feel we as Hong Kongers must do our duty and inform people that we secondary student care about society".
[UPDATE - August 18, 2.50pm]
According to the Civil Human Rights Front, police are refusing to block off the Causway Road and Yee Wo Street to allow more protesters to come to the gathering and are instead asking people to fill up the central lawn in the park.
[UPDATE - August 18, 2.48pm]
MTR service to Tin Hau, Causeway Bay and Hong Kong stations have been temporarily suspended. KMB has also rerouted 29 bus lines, including 101,103,104,108,109, 113, 111, 112, 116, 115, 117, 170, 180, 307, 601, 680, 603, 619, 671, 673, 681, 690, 905, 914, 948, 960, 961, 968 and 978.
[UPDATE - August 18, 2.34pm]
As Victoria Park is nearly filled up, protesters are overflowing into neighbouring areas such as Yee Wo Street outside SOGO department store.