The Civil Human Rights Front was given the green light by the police to hold the rally from 7pm.
Around an hour before the start time, a “red alert” was issued for the Legislative Council, meaning that only police and designated secretariat staff will be allowed in the building.
Earlier in the afternoon, dozens of people – many of them dressed in black and wearing masks – started posting anti-extradition posters and banners on the “Lennon Wall” next to Tim Mei Avenue in Admiralty.
Some of them came with their young children, saying they wanted to educate them about the need to defend Hong Kong’s freedoms and democracy, as well as the importance of safeguarding justice in view of allegations of police brutality and abuse of power.
Others also told RTHK it’s important to remind each other of the lessons learned from the 2014 Occupy movement, including the need for demonstrators to stay united.
“In 2014, there were many parties that blamed each other. For example, some people who were more conventional and some were more aggressive, and they blamed each other. But this time, our ambition is not to blame each other. We are all one party against this government. This is an example of the lesson that we’ve learned”, one of the participants said.
A banner that read “We are back” was also hung up on the footbridge linking Admiralty Centre and the government’s headquarters, in response to the “We will be back” banner that was displayed at the same location towards the end of the 79-day Occupy protests.
The new banner was removed by police shortly after it was strung up.
Meanwhile, police beefed up security around the Legislative Council building and the government’s headquarters. Water barriers surrounded the Chief Executive’s Office, and at least one water cannon vehicle could be seen on standby.
Riot police were also patrolling the area and manning a number of MTR station exits – some of which had already been shut.
Police have given the organisers permission to hold the rally until 10pm, although the planned finishing time is 9pm.