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Hong Kong protesters defy mask ban with bricks and gas bombs

Evie Fordham

Shouting “Wearing a mask is not a crime,” tens of thousands of protesters marched in central Hong Kong on Sunday, as a court rejected a second attempt to block a ban on masks aimed at quashing violence at pro-democracy rallies.

The ban, which took effect Saturday, triggered chaos for a third straight day in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. Police fired tear gas in several areas as demonstrators lobbed bricks and gasoline bombs in confrontations that have become a regular occurrence during the 4-month-old protest movement.

Lawmaker Dennis Kwok said the High Court refused to grant an injunction on the mask ban but agreed to hear later this month an application by 24 legislators against Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam's use of emergency powers to impose the rule by circumventing the legislature.

The embattled leader has said the ban on masks, which allows radical protesters to conceal their identity, was needed to stop widespread violence that has "semi-paralyzed" Hong Kong.

Lam has said she will seek the backing of the legislature when it resumes Oct. 16.

Many malls also remained shuttered as streets downtown turned into a sea of umbrellas, with protesters chanting "Hong Kong people, resist." The rally disbanded after police deployed tear gas to break up violence and detained over a dozen young protesters. Tear gas was also used in the city’s Mong Kok district.

Some protesters who wore masks Sunday said the ban curtailed their freedom of expression. The ban applies to both illegal and police-approved gatherings, and carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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