A large group of protesters who gathered near Beijing’s liaison office in Western on Tuesday were dispersed by armed police who warned them against gathering in the area.

The protesters uprooted wooden flag poles and threw down the flags erected to celebrate the PRC’s 70th anniversary. But most of the demonstrators dispersed after riot police raised a blue flag, warning them to leave the area.

The protesters had continued on to Sheung Wan after the majority of the marchers, who defied a police ban and joined the rally at Causeway Bay, stopped when they reached Central.

Former lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan who had called for the march along with other pan-democratic leaders estimated that more than 100,000 took part. Lee said the turnout was a show of defiance by the people of Hong Kong.

“The police keep threatening people, banning this march. Still, even with the threat, so many people came out to march,” he said. “That is the spirit of Hong Kong.”

Lee said the people of Hong Kong are mourning as the central government is celebrating national day.

The marchers earlier tore down a large sign erected at Pacific Place to mark the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding.