- Organiser says 9,000 people attend march on Wednesday evening from Central to government headquarters, while police put number at 1,500
- Crowd led by Occupy co-founder Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, renowned singer and actress Deanie Ip and film director Shu Kei
An estimated 9,000 people, mostly elderly citizens, took to the streets of Hong Kong on Wednesday evening to show their support for the youths who have been at the forefront of protests against the extradition bill, the organiser said.
Led by Occupy Central co-founder Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, renowned singer and actress Deanie Ip Tak-han and film director Shu Kei, the crowd marched from Chater Garden in Central to the government headquarters in Admiralty, carrying a banner that read: "Support youngsters. Safeguard Hong Kong".
Police put the attendance at 1,500.
The crowd, mostly dressed in white, also displayed two black banners with the words "Opposed to institutional violence" and "We want universal suffrage".
Chu, serving a suspended sentence for his role in the 2014 Occupy campaign for greater democracy, said the march was a new page in the city's social movements.
"This is now a mass movement, with all different age groups calling for the government to answer our demands," he said.
Police anger at boiling point over backing for Hong Kong protesters
A group of mothers had staged two sit-ins earlier, also urging the government to fully withdraw the bill, which would have allowed the transfers of suspects to jurisdictions Hong Kong does not have an extradition deal with, including mainland China.
Yeung Po-hei, 67, who recently formed a "silver-haired group" and co-organised the march, said: "We want to send a message to the city and the government that we, senior residents, support the youngsters and echo their demands."
She said she had no party affiliation, and her adult son's participation in the movement was not the main reason she helped organise the march.
"The anger of youngsters was provoked by the unmoving government, which turned a blind eye to our demands after millions took to the streets peacefully."
Youths have been the main driver of the protests against the bill, which Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor suspended on June 15.
The bill sparked a series of mass rallies since early June, with some ending in confrontations between protesters and police, including bloody clashes at the New Town Plaza shopping centre in Sha Tin on Sunday, while left 28 people hurt, including 13 officers.
Asked how she felt about the violence, Yeung said: "For sure, we want rallies to stay peaceful. But it comes with conditions … it was the government that refused to act and avoid violent clashes."
Another co-organiser, Tam Kwok-sun, said he did not support the use of violence but understood and had sympathy for those who had resorted to such ways. "The root of the problem lies in the government, which fails to address public demands," he said.
Patrick Liu, 65, a retired manager in the telecoms industry, said: "I understand some youngsters have resorted to violence to grab more attention, after they found peaceful protests could no longer move the government."
Wheelchair user Lo Siu-lan, 82, was among those in the crowd. Lo, who took the government to court over the privatisation of shopping centres and car parks in 2004, said she supported all the youngsters who fought for the public, calling them "successors".
"Carrie Lam is incapable. She has to step down now!" she said.
Former ICAC chief investigator Stephen Char Shik-ngor said: "I am extremely disappointed with the government led by Carrie Lam. It is irresponsible to push police to the opposite side of citizens and tear the entire city."
He said it was ironic that no heads had rolled over the bill even though the government had an accountability system, and called for Lam to fully withdraw the bill and set up an independent committee to investigate police's use of force.
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