HONG KONG (AP) — Police and protesters engaged in a standoff in Hong Kong’s nightlife district on Thursday after pro-democracy demonstrators urged people to celebrate Halloween by wearing masks in defiance of a government ban on face coverings.
Riot police pushed people back slowly from the Lan Kwai Fong area of bars, clubs and restaurants that is usually abuzz with revelers on the holiday.
Police fired tear gas but it wasn’t immediately clear whether there had been violence between protesters and officers or if anyone had been arrested.
Organizers had called on supporters of the protest movement to take part in a “masquerade” on Thursday to put to the test a recent government ban on masks at public gatherings aimed at quelling the increasingly violent protests now in their fifth month.
Digital fliers circulated online called on people to wear masks depicting Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other senior officials.
They also said people could wear a mask and dress in red for the march, which was set to begin at a large park and proceed to the Lan Kwai Fong bar and nightclub district.
A Hong Kong court has granted a temporary injunction to block messages inciting violence on messaging app Telegram and the Reddit-like forum LIHKG – two of the most popular communication channels in the city’s protest movement.
The Secretary for Justice, in her capacity as “guardian of the public interest,” applied for an injunction at the High Court of Thursday. The application asked that the court restrain anyone from “disseminating, sharing, or resharing” any information or material that “promotes, encourages or incites” violence against any person or unlawful damage against other persons or property.
The injunction application lists Telegram and LIHKG as examples, but said it would apply to other online forums and communication software as well.