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Hong Kong protests enter 11th consecutive weekend

China releases police training video amid HK protests
01:19

What we covered here

  • Protesters march: Hundreds of thousands of protesters braved torrential rain, a police ban and menacing Chinese propaganda videos for the 11th consecutive weekend of mass demonstrations.
  • High turnout: Protest organizers said that 1.7 million people joined Sunday’s mass demonstration, while police said 128,000 people rallied at Victoria Park. CNN cannot independently confirm either estimate.
  • A tumultuous week: The march came amid calls for peace and unity after ugly scenes at the airport Tuesday, when a small crowd of protesters attacked a man they accused of being an undercover cop.
  • Months of protest: The protests began in June over a now-shelved extradition bill, but have expanded to include calls for greater democracy and government accountability.
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What to know about Sunday's protests in Hong Kong

Our live coverage of Sunday’s mass demonstrations in Hong Kong has wrapped up. You can read more here.

Here’s a recap of what happened:

The protesters: Hundreds of thousands of people returned to the streets of Hong Kong in an attempt to restore peace after violent scenes at the city’s airport earlier this week. It was the 11th consecutive week of protests. Organizers said 1.7 million participated in the demonstrations, while police put the number at 128,000 people.

Their demands: The protests started in June over a controversial extradition law, but have now expanded to call for Hong Kong’s leader to step down, an inquiry into alleged police brutality, for those who have been arrested to be released and greater democratic freedoms.

The city’s response: Police were noticeably absent from the protests. Hong Kong’s government called for social order to be restored. And as unrest intensifies, Beijing has also been increasingly critical.

What’s next: It’s unclear what will happen next. The government said in a statement that it would begin “sincere dialogue” with protesters once everything calmed down.

Hong Kong Police say 128,000 people were at the park for protests

A Hong Kong Police spokesperson told CNN that 128,000 people participated in the demonstrations at Victoria Park on Sunday.

Protest organizers said more than 1.7 million people attended protests throughout Hong Kong on Sunday.

CNN cannot independently confirm either estimate.

Hong Kong government urges "social order" be restored

The Hong Kong government has responded to the mass demonstration on Sunday, saying in a statement that the protests caused “much inconvenience to the community” and that it is “important to restore social order as soon as possible.”

Here’s the full statement:

In response to the public meeting held in Victoria Park today (August 18), a Government spokesman said that though the public meeting was generally peaceful, the participants occupied a number of thoroughfares on Hong Kong Island, seriously affecting traffic and causing much inconvenience to the community. The Transport Department and the Police have actively co-ordinated with concerned parties to minimize the impact. 
The spokesman reiterated that it was most important to restore social order as soon as possible. The Government will begin sincere dialogue with the public, mend social rifts and rebuild social harmony when everything has calmed down.  

Protesters are still gathering on Harcourt Road, but will they stay out?

Protesters gather on Harcourt Road by the Legislative Council offices.

What’s the atmosphere like right now? The mood is uncertain and increasingly tense on Harcourt Road, as a few thousand protesters continue to occupy the roads outside the government headquarters in Admiralty district. Police have been seen moving inside the government complex, to roars of disapproval and shouts from the crowd. The complex is heavily barricaded and protected by large water filled barriers. 

What are people doing? Several protesters are wearing hard hats, goggles, gloves and other protection gear that has become a familiar sight in recent weeks. There’s a sense that a clearance could take place any time… or could be hours away if it comes at all.

What are the protesters saying? Speaking to CNN, one protester who only gave his first name as Peter said, “When there’s no police (at past events), people left at exactly 11:59 p.m.,” he said, referring to when police letters of no objection expire. The last MTR trains of the night also run around this time.

“Whenever there’s police it will be a mess and people will get hurt. I don’t think anyone wants anyone to get hurt tonight,” Peter said.

Another protester named Steven said, “If police fire tear gas we will fight them.”

Asked if it would be better if police stayed inside and let people disperse slowly but peacefully, he said “totally.”

If it’s supposed to be a peaceful march, why are they still out? The unwillingness of the crowds outside government offices to leave shows that, while organizers Civil Human Rights Front can get hundreds of thousands of people out, it exercises little control over the small cohort of young frontline protesters.

They are determined to make a point tonight, either by holding the street until midnight or beyond, or by fighting back against police should a clearance come.

“We don’t want to have any problems tonight, no tear gas or anything,” one protester named Felix said. “This was supposed to be a peaceful protest. Those of us with gear will stay until the last but everyone else should go.”

He and his friends were shouting at the crowd saying “we’re waiting for you all to go home.”

Organizers say 1.7 million people took part in today's mass demonstration

Protest organizers the Civil Human Rights Front estimate that 1.7 million people turned out for today’s mass demonstration.

Police have told CNN they do not yet have their own estimate for crowd size and CNN cannot independently confirm the organizers’ figures. 

The number, if accurate, would represent a strong rebuke to those who claimed the movement had lost broad public support.

Speaking to the press in Victoria Park, the CHRF said they counted 1.7 million people in Causeway Bay and Tin Hau districts as well as Victoria Park.

The group said the number could be even higher as they believe more people were protesting who could not reach the areas listed above.

On June 9, days before the controversial extradition bill was due to have its second reading, organizers estimated the crowd size for that march to be more than 1 million, while police put the number at 240,000. At another march on June 16, organizers estimated that around 2 million had taken part, but police said 338,000 people had followed the original protest route.

Protesters stop a man, search his phone

There was a tense confrontation on Harcourt Road in Admiralty district when a man wearing a red T-shirt was blocked and briefly questioned by the crowd.

Men dressed in red had previously attacked protesters in North Point, in the east of the island, and protesters here accused the man of being in alliance with them. The mood became aggressive as it became clear the man was from mainland China. Protesters searched his phone but found nothing incriminating. 

While tensions didn’t reach the point of violence, it was a remainder of Tuesday’s detention and assault of another mainland Chinese man in Hong Kong airport. That man was eventually evacuated by paramedics four hours after he was first detained and attacked, drifting in and out of consciousness during his ordeal. 

The man stopped in Admiralty on Sunday told CNN he was from Shanghai and “wanted to go home.” 

Photos of his detention were almost immediately shared on Chinese social media and by state media employees on Twitter, who accused Hong Kong protesters of acting like thugs.

It's coming up 9:30 p.m. in Hong Kong. Here's the latest

If you’re just joining us now, here’s what you need to know about the protests happening today on Hong Kong Island:

  • Massive crowds: Hundreds of thousands of protesters of all ages have marched through the city center in heavy rain, in a massive display of continued support for the movement.
  • Call for solidarity: The march was titled “Peaceful, Rational, and Non-Violent Protesters Stand Out” in what was organizers hoped would be a call for unity and restraint after several weeks of escalating and divisive violence.
  • An unauthorized march: Defying a police ban, massive crowds left the designated protest area in Victoria Park, turning the city center into a sea of umbrellas.
  • It’s not over yet: Thousands of protesters are now peacefully occupying the road outside the government’s Legislative Council complex.
  • No police presence: Police have been noticeably absent from the protest today, with only a small contingent around the Chinese Liaison office in Sheung Wan.
  • Still strong support for the movement: This is the 11th consecutive weekend of demonstrations in Hong Kong and follows scenes of ugly violence at the airport, Tuesday, and increasingly menacing warnings from the Chinese government.

Protesters are hanging around government headquarters

The situation on Harcourt Road, outside government offices and the Legislative Council, is getting much closer to an occupation. Crowds here are mostly young and more are wearing masks, helmets and other riot gear.

There is still a constant stream of people heading westwards but it feels like more are staying to see what happens now the weather has improved somewhat. Police are still nowhere in sight.

Riot police gather close to the Chinese Liaison office

Where are police? A handful of riot police have begun to gather along Des Voeux Road and Connaught Road, in the city’s Sheung Wan district.

There are also tall water barricades outside the nearby Chinese government Liaison Office and some riot police are guarding the road leading to the building.

Are protesters there too? There are no signs of protesters here so far tonight – though the Chinese Liaison office has been at the center of several violent clashes between protesters and riot police.

The Chinese Liaison Office is home to Beijing’s top representative in the city – and protests outside the building have been viewed as a direct challenge the Chinese Communist Party.

What about elsewhere? There are also large water filled barricades at the intersection of Tim Wa Avenue and Harcourt Road, outside the city government’s main headquarters. This location was the site of clashes between protesters and police on June 12, when authorities moved to clear a similar (though much larger) occupation with tear gas and rubber bullets. Police are not currently in sight, though protesters say they have seen officers inside several police vans that are parked behind the barricades.

See protesters shine lasers onto Hong Kong's Legislative Council building

Protesters are shining lasers onto the Legislative Council building. Lasers have been used throughout the protest movement to disorientate police and in an attempt to deter people from taking photos of protesters.

Demonstrators are particularly worried about mainland China’s mass surveillance systems, which include facial recognition technologies.

Hong Kong police have previously warned protesters against using lasers, saying they pose a “serious threat to the safety of police officers.”

International businesses facing a "new reality" as protest movement forces hard choices  

One of the world’s top airlines has discovered just how dangerous Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests are becoming for international companies based in the city.

The stunning resignations late Friday of Cathay Pacific’s CEO and chief commercial officer came at the end of a tumultuous couple of weeks for the airline.

No company has become more emblematic of just how thin a line businesses are having to walk as Hong Kong enters into its 11th consecutive weekend of mass demonstrations.

More than a thousand of its employees took part in a strike last week that forced the airline to cancel over 150 flights. Days later, China said it would not allow Cathay flights crewed by people who have taken part in “illegal demonstrations, protests and violent attacks” to use its airspace. It forced the airline to provide crew IDs.

In response, Cathay accepted restrictions from Chinese authorities on who could fly its planes over the country. Then it threatened staff with dismissal if they took part in the protests.

None of that was enough to save two of the company’s highest ranking executives, and news of their departures broke first on Chinese state media.

“International businesses have to face a new reality here,” said Ronald Wan, chief executive of Partners Capital International in Hong Kong.

Read more about the dangers facing international businesses operating in Hong Kong here

Protest movement shows it can be peaceful -- can it stay that way as night falls?

Protesters marching from Wan Chai to Central district as night falls.

After ugly scenes at the airport on Tuesday, when protesters detained and assaulted a man they accused of being an undercover police officer, today’s march serves as a rebuttal to those suggesting the protest movement was getting out of control.

That tens if not hundreds of thousands of people have turned out in miserable weather also shows that the incident, which was played up widely in Chinese state media and the local pro government press, has not significantly sapped support. 

What happens next?

There are still large numbers of families and older people in the crowds streaming past the legislature towards the unofficial end point of central.

Police tactics come into focus

In the past, the police have largely tolerated peaceful protests during the day and then moved in with force later on to clear the roads. 

Doing so today could be a huge misstep however. Excessive use of force last Sunday, when police fired tear gas inside a subway station and were filmed using less lethal weapons at point blank range, was a driving motivation for the protests in following days, and cited by many attending today’s march.

Protesters aren't worried about Chinese army threats

What’s the concern? Ahead of Sunday’s rally, video surfaced appearing to show Chinese police and armed police forces holding a joint training in the neighboring mainland city of Shenzhen, according to Chinese state media People’s Daily.

In a video, police can be heard chanting “Stop the violence and repent” in Cantonese and “We listen to the party’s command! We can win the battle! We forge exemplary conduct!” in Mandarin Chinese, a standard chant of the Chinese Army.

Why is it significant? The videos come as fears of a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) intervention has spread through the city and triggered memories of the brutal 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

There is no indication that the Chinese military or People’s Armed Police members are set to enter Hong Kong. But state media has repeatedly brought up that possibility and propaganda videos of soldiers training in makeshift riot scenes have been heavily promoted by the government in the mainland.

What are protesters saying? In response to the Chinese show of armed force in Shenzhen, one man says they are “empty threats.”

One woman agrees. “It doesn’t worry me because we know that if the military force from China or Shenzhen come to Hong Kong, the whole social order is being destroyed. And I don’t think this is what the government are willing to see,” she told CNN.

Satellite imagery shows Chinese military vehicles congregating near Hong Kong border

Another young woman whose surname is Choi, said she is worried about a possible intervention but she doesn’t think Beijing would dare send in the troops.

“They would not want a repeat of Tiananmen,” she said. “They spent too long doing PR, they had an economic boom, they’ve been trying to get more influence in the world.” She said if they did a repeat of Tiananmen, “they would lose all that credibility.”

Choi also said that while Hong Kong has seen some minor violence, international attention is focused on the city.

“I don’t think we have done anything that require them to escalate that way,” she said. “We are not generally violent, and they can’t really justify releasing the army into the city.”

Read more on this here.

Hong Kong government accuses protest organizers of targeting police in their slogans

A Hong Kong government spokesperson has released a statement expressing “regret” over the assembly in Victoria Park today and accusing organizers of targeting the police in their slogans.

The government said that Hong Kong “has always been a very safe city” but in the past two months “radical and violent protesters” have “charged police cordon lines, deliberately blocked roads, vandalised public facilities, set fire in various locations, attacked police officers with offensive weapons, and threw bricks and petrol bombs.” 

On Sunday evening, the government asked those participating in the protest to “express their views in a peaceful and rational manner and say ‘no’ to violence so that Hong Kong can resume order as soon as possible, return to rationality and regain momentum.”

The government also said that it fully supports the police “in strictly enforcing the law” and respects the public’s right of peaceful assembly and freedom of speech.

Organizers named the march “Peaceful, Rational, and Non-Violent Protesters Stand Out” – perhaps a call for order and restraint after ugly scenes at the airport Tuesday, which shocked many supporters of the movement.

Here's your rundown of what protesters are doing

Protesters march westwards on Gloucester Road in Hong Kong.

After tens of thousands of people gathered in Victoria Park on Sunday, central Hong Kong is occupied and closed to traffic once again as thousands march westward through the city’s streets.

Where are protesters now? Small crowds are gathering outside the Legislative Council building but most are plodding on home in the rain.

Harcourt Road, a key thoroughfare which passes Hong Kong’s legislature, has previously been the site of multiple clashes with police since the anti-government, pro-democracy protests began in June. Protesters have unfurled a banner from the walkway reading “We want democracy.”

Streams of protesters continue to head west and are pushing on into Central district.

Protesters unfurl a banner reading "We want democracy" on Harcourt Road

Will protesters stay out? While most appear to be headed home, small groups of mostly younger protesters wearing masks are staying on the streets, camping out under limited cover.

What are protesters saying? On Harcourt Road outside the legislative council, Elfa, 22, says she thinks the protest “should stay peaceful” if police stay behind their barricades and tolerate the marchers. She points out that the occupation here is partly a result of police denying the march permission and therefore there was no fixed route. She and her friends plan to stay here despite the non-stop rain. “Tear gas won’t work in the rain,” she points out.

A family marches on in the rain.

Where are the police? Police presence has been minimal all over the march’s route, which was not authorized by authorities. Given police have cleared Harcourt Road several times before, if there are clashes tonight this is likely where they will take place. 

Don't underestimate this movement

A man holds a sign referencing an incident where a protester was injured in the eye by police.

Today’s march was characterised as a means of reclaiming people’s trust and support after ugly scenes at the airport on Tuesday night when large groups of protesters blocked passengers from their flights and attacked two men they accused of being undercover police officers.

The episode shocked many and lead to inevitable questions as to whether the movement was on the verge of losing popular support.

The answer, apparently, is no … at least not yet.

Despite heavy rain, tens of thousands of people including the young, families, and the elderly, packed out Victoria Park, Sunday.

Three hours after the start of the rally, the park is still full with people under a sea of umbrellas. Thousands of protesters, meanwhile, have spilled onto surrounding roads that are now heavily congested.

Many protesters say they are not hopeful their demands – which include the formal withdrawal of a now suspended extradition bill, an independent inquiry into police misconduct and wider democratic reforms – will be met.

But they are also adamant that they will keep fighting – and Sunday’s rally shows that despite the violence, despite the missteps, and the weather, it’s a feeling that many in this city still very much support.

What would a Chinese military crackdown mean for Hong Kong?

A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldier at the Hong Kong Garrison on August 1, 2019.

Today’s march is all about peace – but tensions have been high for weeks in Hong Kong, with some people speculating that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) may be deployed as violence escalates.

PLA deployment would have lasting ramifications for the city’s economy, reputation and diplomatic ties. Here’s what a crackdown would likely mean:

  • It could crash the economy: Hong Kong’s stock market would likely drop sharply as soon as the PLA appeared, possibly wiping billions of dollars off the value of companies. The stock market might not recover, companies could relocate operations elsewhere, and a mass exodus could crash the property market.
  • Diplomatic fallout: Hundreds of thousands of citizens from Australia, the UK and the US could be affected – there is a huge expatriate population here. China would take a huge diplomatic and reputational hit if a crackdown is broadcast worldwide. China and Hong Kong could then suffer from impacted trade with other countries.

Read more about it here.

Sheltering from the rain ... with wine

Protesters duck for cover from the rain in Hong Kong.

As the torrential rain continues, hundreds of people are gathering under awnings, store entrances and ledges.

Three longtime residents said they tried to join the protests but could not get to Victoria Park due to the size of the crowd, so they chose instead to shelter from the rain and grab a glass of white wine en route.

They declined to give their names but described watching tens of thousands of protesters stream past as they sipped wine as “surreal.”

“Only in Hong Kong could this happen,” they said.

Protesters take photos as they shelter from the rain.

Others, like Louis, 43, who works in the IT industry, said there was no reason not to come out today.

“We’ve been here every time since beginning of June and the government has given us nothing since then.” he said. “I have no idea what comes next but all we can do as citizens is keep going, protest peacefully and let the government and regime know our demands.”

Louis said of recent violence at the airport, where protesters detained and beat two men they accused of being undercover police officers, that “protesters come from a very wide spectrum of citizens and they make mistakes.”

Some protesters shelter in doorways in Hong Kong.

Pro-democracy protests have traditionally attracted a broad cross-section of Hong Kong society. Many people have stressed that it is possible to be both supportive of the current protest movement and against the actions of a violent minority.

Crowds push on to the heart of the city, as a smaller group heads in the opposite direction

Protesters are leaving Victoria Park and pushing ahead with their march.

The view from Victoria Park: Protesters have occupied the ramp onto Gloucester highway, one of biggest thoroughfares in Hong Kong.

The crowd is heading to the city’s main downtown area, Central, despite calls from the rally’s organizers to take the subway home.

Many more people are continuing to stream into the park, which remains packed.

The atmosphere is calm, friendly, and there are still people of all ages out with many taking photos.

Protesters occupy the ramp to Glousester Highway, a major Hong Kong road.

Outside the park, a small group of protesters have started to take down railings in an apparent attempt to build barricades, as has happened at previous protests.

Protesters gather in side streets as bystanders look on.

The view from Admiralty: Protesters that have marched out of Victoria Park are moving steadily through Wan Chai and heading to Admiralty, the financial center of the city. The crowd is large, despite the continued downpours, but nowhere near the size of June’s record breaking demonstrations.

Some protesters are marching through Amdiralty, the city's financial center.

Some protesters are also marching from the direction of Central and walking toward Wan Chai – meaning one group is now heading west, and one smaller group is heading east.

Police have fired more than 1,000 rounds of tear gas in 2 months

Police scuffle with pro-democracy protestors at Hong Kong International Airport on August 13, 2019.

The past two months have seen countless clashes between protesters and riot police, with escalating violence from both sides.

Since June 9, the police have used more than 160 rubber bullets, 150 sponge bullets, and fired 1,000 rounds of tear gas, according to police spokespeople.

These figures were listed last week, and have gone up since then – police and protesters have clashed again, and tear gas has been fired.

In addition to liberal use of tear gas, the police purchased three French-made riot control vehicles equipped with water cannons last year, which have yet to be used in the clashes.

Meanwhile, protesters have taken to throwing bricks and unknown liquids at police, shining laser pointers into officers’ eyes, and throwing back tear gas canisters. They’ve also set several fires near police stations and during face-offs, and armed themselves with steel bars and bamboo poles.

Protesting police tactics and violence

Howard, 39, says protesters should not lose hope and should keep fighting.

Everyone should be equal under the law, Howard, a 39-year-old actor said on Sunday. Howard, who is taking part in today’s protest at Victoria Park said of the recent violence between police and protesters that the law should decide.

“We cannot justify whether that citizen is breaking the law or not. If he is breaking the law then he has liability to face justice, but at same time we are asking for those in the police who break the law (to face justice as well).”

Howard said that he is protesting against perceived police violence, police posing as protesters, and mob attacks from organized criminal gangs.

“We want the government to listen to us, withdraw the extradition bill and also have an independent panel investigating police abuse and those officers should be stood down,” he said.

“All these two months we have gone through a lot but we should not lose hope and we should keep fighting.”

Have police overstepped the mark? Allegations of police brutality have fueled increasingly violent protests in the streets of Hong Kong, prompting law enforcement to fire tear gas on an almost daily basis. The appearance of police disguised as protesters have also triggered further outrage and paranoia among some of the protesters. 

Officers have defended their use of force in response to what they characterized as violent, criminal behavior, and rejected calls for an independent investigation into their handling of the situation.

Traveling to Hong Kong? Here's what you need to know

Tourists in Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui district on August 7, 2019.

Hong Kong has been protesting for more than two months now. With the unrest showing no sign of stopping any time soon, is it still safe to visit Hong Kong?

If you’re traveling to Hong Kong, here’s what you need to know:

  • Is Hong Kong safe? Generally, yes. Most marches are widely advertized in advance, so visitors can easily avoid them. However, the protests also tend to move quickly and fluidly around the city, meaning they can occur with little or no notice.
  • What can I do to stay safe? Keep an eye on local media reports to monitor which areas are affected, especially at weekends when most protests take place. If there are signs of unrest, get out of there quickly.
  • Can I still fly to Hong Kong? Yes, airlines are still flying in and out. But protesters have occupied the airport several times now, disrupting almost 1,000 flights. There is a court order banning airport protests until August 23, but it might still happen again.
  • What if my flight is canceled? The airline should reschedule it fairly quickly. Some airlines including Qantas have covered the cost of extra hotel nights and food for those days. There are also international airports in Macao and mainland China, which are easily accessible.
  • What do the authorities say? The government said this week that Hong Kong is still “a welcoming city for tourists and investors, a safe place for travelers from around the world,” but acknowledged that protesters have blocked roads, vandalized property and clashed with police.
  • What do other countries say? At least 28 countries have issued travel advisories about Hong Kong, including the US, Australia, and the United Kingdom. But they don’t advise tourists to avoid Hong Kong, just to exercise more caution.

Read more FAQ here.

Just catching up? Here's what you need to know about today's protests

Protesters march towards Causeway Bay, one of Hong Kong's main shopping districts.

Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park, despite heavy rain, for the 11th consecutive weekend of anti-government protests. It’s the the first major demonstration following ugly scenes at the city’s airport earlier this week.

Here’s the rundown:

  • Why are people marching in the rain? The rally was organized by the Civil and Human Rights Front (CHRF), a more traditional pro-democrat organization which previously put on two huge peaceful marches in June. The aim is to stage a peaceful demonstration following violence at the airport this week. One of the slogans of the rally is “Hong Kongers Assemble: Peaceful, Rational, and Non-Violent Protesters Stand Out.”
  • Will there be violence? Police have only given permission for people to gather in Victoria Park but not for the proposed march to Chater Gardens in Central district. Despite the theme of today’s protest focusing on being a peaceful rally, if protesters do push on with their intended march it could raise the possibility of clashes with police.
  • What sparked today’s protests? All departing flights at the airport – one of the busiest in Asia – were canceled on Monday and Tuesday after protesters flooded the main terminal. Protesters also detained and beat two men they accused of being undercover police officers, and violently clashed with riot police. A group of protesters later apologized for the incident.
  • What will be the police’s reaction? Attention will be on whether the Hong Kong police can avoid the type of forceful reaction which has previously spurred greater protests. Last weekend saw tear gas fired inside a subway station and a woman allegedly hit in the face with a beanbag round, outraging protesters and driving turnout at the airport just as things appeared to be calming down somewhat.

A taste of Hong Kong's protest art

Throughout the protest movement, there’s been a seemingly endless stream of creative, and sometimes humorous, artworks.

Today’s protest is no different.

At Causeway Bay subway station, protesters clad in black handed out glossy A3 posters to passersby.

This one uses the cut-out paper dolls of your childhood to show the typical outfits of protesters, press and police. There are also items that have become synonymous with the groups, including the protest messages written on colorful Post-it notes that are often seen stuck to walls around the city.

And the poster also has a message for police, who have been criticized for their heavy-handed tactics: “Do you still remember your aspirations when you put on (the) police uniform for the first time?”

This one was also handed out at the Causeway Bay subway station – but takes a quite different approach. The large pink characters read: “God bless Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong’s political art has taken on a distinct style, from design to distribution. Banners are not just plastered onto main roads – they are sent directly to residents via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi almost immediately after they are created.

The graphics serve multiple purposes; some advertise upcoming protest marches, others contain subversive criticism of the authorities and many encourage unity and stamina. You can read more about Hong Kong’s protest art here.

This is what the protests look like right now

Protesters gather for a rally in Victoria Park in Hong Kong on August 18, 2019.

Images show tens of thousands of protesters filling up Hong Kong’s Victoria Park – umbrellas drawn as the rain lashes down.

The crowd is slowly moving onto Causeway Road, Great George Street and Gloucester Road from the park.

Organizers have urged urged police to open more roads to protesters.

Protesters gather for a major rally to show the city's leaders their protest movement still attracts wide public support despite mounting violence and increasingly stark warnings from Beijing.

Even bubble tea and Mulan have become political in the protests

Yifei Liu stars as Mulan in the live-action remake of the classic Disney film.

With the protests morphing from peaceful demonstrations into something bigger and more divisive, it seems like everyone is forced to pick a side – and celebrities and brands are getting caught in the mix.

Earlier this week, Liu Yifei, the star of Disney’s upcoming live-action “Mulan” remake expressed support of the Hong Kong police, sparking calls for a Mulan boycott.

Food and drink have been politicized: Sports drinks brand Pocari Sweat was cheered by protesters and boycotted by the opposition after the company pulled ads from a local broadcaster perceived as pro-Beijing.

Even bubble tea has been caught in the mix, with a Taiwanese chain urging solidarity with protesters.

Fashion blunders: A Versace t-shirt appeared to list Hong Kong and Macau as countries rather than semi Chinese cities, inciting outrage from mainland China this week. A celebrity Chinese brand ambassador quit, and social media users lambasted the brand.

Versace and other brands who designed similar shirts, like Coach and Givenchy, have all apologized. Donatella Versace personally apologized, saying, “Never have I wanted to disrespect China’s national sovereignty.”

Chinese social media users criticized a Versace T-shirt which appears to list Hong Kong and Macau as independent countries.

Tens of thousands of protesters turn Victoria Park into sea of umbrellas

The rain has started to pour in Hong Kong but that hasn’t put off the thousand of protesters currently in Victoria Park.

Protesters are huddling under thousands of multi-colored umbrellas in the park, which is so full that many are spilling out onto the surrounding streets.

Protesters have also begun to peacefully march out of the park along Gloucester Road, carrying banners and chanting.

Protesters huddle under umbrellas in Victoria Park in Hong Kong.

Protest organizers call for resignation of police commissioner 

During a speech at the rally in Victoria Park, a spokesperson from protest organizers, the Civil and Human Rights Front (CHRF), called for both the chief commissioner of police and the secretary of security to step down. 

“Recently we are witnessing considerable level of police brutality against Hong Kong people. People have lost faith in the police,” the CHRF said.

“The original intention of the anti-extradition bill is to resist the authoritarian rule of China, to prevent Hong Kong people living under fear. However the recent reaction from the police has threatened the personal safety of Hong Kong people.”

At about 3:10 p.m. local time (3:10 a.m. ET) organizers announced that the park was now full and police had closed Gloucester Road, one of the main arteries leading from the park.

What to wear if you want to stay safe in the protests

Protesters have been on the streets for more than two months now, facing off against police, tear gas, rubber bullets, and pepper spray nearly every week.

By now, the protesters – mainly young people and students – are seasoned pros, and arrive at protests decked out in gear. Here are some of the items to bring and wear if you want to stay safe at a protest:

  • Goggles protect your eyes from tear gas, which irritates and burns the skin and eyes. These are also useful if you don’t want to be easily identified.
  • Gas masks aren’t cheap but they provide crucial protection against tear gas.
  • Hard hats also offer protection against police batons and flying objects – protesters have thrown everything from bricks to plastic bottles during clashes with police.
  • Water is a must – heat stroke and dehydration are real threats in the sweltering summer. Water can also extinguish tear gas canister and rinse the gas from your eyes during clashes.
  • Umbrellas have become a protest symbol, perhaps inspired by 2014’s months-long pro-democracy protest, dubbed locally as the “Umbrella Revolution.” They can act as shields against tear gas and unwanted cameras.
  • Sport shoes, shin pads, gloves, towels, and a change of clothes aren’t a must – but they add small degrees of comfort during unpleasant protests.

Pro-democracy veteran: Government needs to listen to protesters

Lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, or "Long Hair," in Victoria Park on Sunday.

Pro-democracy lawmaker, and veteran protester, Leung Kwok-hung, who is more commonly known as “Long Hair,” was among the crowds in Victoria Park Sunday.

He told CNN that he believes more than 1 million people will join today’s rally.

“I think the majority of the Hong Kong population demand there be an independent investigation about all the conflicts and legislation of the extradition law,” he said.

“The first thing the government needs to do is to listen to the people and do what they demand.”

As Hong Kong enters its 11th consecutive weekend of anti-government protests, the city is waiting anxiously to see if both protesters and police can avoid the violent clashes that have characterized recent weeks.

Police have not given permission for protesters to march out of Victoria Park to Chater Garden in Central District as planned, raising the possibility for clashes if groups to decide to push ahead.

Subway station crowded with protesters

Protesters queue for the eastbound Island Line at Admiralty station in Hong Kong

Crowds of people heading to the protest in Victoria Park are filling up the subway station in Admiralty district – one of the main transit points between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.

This is the queue for the eastbound Island Line at Admiralty station, as protesters head to Tin Hau or Causeway Bay to join the protest.

The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) corporation issued an alert Sunday warning that large numbers of passengers were causing overcrowding at station platforms and that “Island Line trains might not stop at certain stations.” It cautioned passengers that longer wait times at some stations are expected.

Police warn Hong Kong residents about protest over text message

Hong Kong police have sent SMS message to members of the public advising them of today’s protest in Victoria Park.

“Police appeal,” the message reads. “Major public event at Victoria Park this PM, stay tuned to media and police updates.”

The messages come after local broadcaster RTHK reported that police would be sending out alerts during mass demonstrations to raise awareness and for safety reasons.

Police said that due to the high number of people in Hong Kong – 7.5 million live in the city – that residents may get the messages at different times during the day, according to RTHK.