Activists in Hong Kong have called for a march on Sunday and a boycott of work and classes on Monday in protest against an extradition bill that could result in suspects being sent to mainland China.
On Thursday, a day after a demonstration by thousands of people was violently cleared, a group of pro-democracy politicians and activists tried to march on the residence of Hong Kong???s chief executive, Carrie Lam, but were stopped by police.
???We need to come out in unity. We call on all demonstrators. We can win if all of us come out,??? said Lee Cheuk-yan, a politician and activist, condemning the police and Lam, who has been pushing the bill.
Debate in the Legislative Council over the bill was postponed again on Thursday. The proposed law, which critics say Beijing could use to target political enemies in Hong Kong, has brought up to a million people on to the streets to protest. Beijing and Hong Kong authorities insist the law is aimed at combating crime.
Demonstrators and observers were shocked by the violence of Wednesday, when police charged on protesters, firing rubber bullets and teargas. At least 72 people were taken to hospital, two of whom were in a serious condition.
???Emotionally, it???s devastating,??? said Yoyo Chan, who has been staging a hunger strike and sit-in on a path just outside the government headquarters. After the protests were cleared on Wednesday, she went to help clean up rubbish left on the streets and found a backpack abandoned by a protester ??? a young girl, according to her ID card left behind.
???She???s so young. [The protesters] are so hopeful and just want to help the city. The way they were oppressed yesterday, it???s heartbreaking,??? Chan said.
The city was slowly returning to normal after a shutdown on Wednesday. By Thursday morning main traffic arteries had been reopened and evidence of the protests ??? piles of broken goggles, bottles and umbrellas ??? had been shunted to the side of the road. Dozens of police patrolled the central Hong Kong area. Several shops in a mall near the site of the protests were shut.
The mood was mostly upbeat on Thursday as dispersed groups of demonstrators organised supplies, cleaned up litter and chatted. In Tamar Park, outside the Legislative Council building where lawmakers will debate the proposed bill, a circle of demonstrators were singing worship songs accompanied by a saxophonist.
Others were more defiant. A few dozen protesters on an overpass leading into the government complex faced off with police blocking their way. The group stood in silence, holding up laminated signs that said ???Retract??? and ???Go Hong Kong???.
Later in the day a new group arrived and held signs that said ???Stop police brutality???. Secondary school students held signs up to the police that said ???Stop shooting Hong Kong students???. One group of protesters chanted: ???Stop all violence. Peace and love come to Hong Kong.??? Mike Tsang, 23, a recent graduate, said: ???We are coming here to show the police we won???t give up.???
Nearby another group was sorting bags of helmets, face masks and other supplies, and trying to find places around the city to hide the items for when the protesters return. ???Today we are safe,??? said one of the protesters.
In Tamar Park, another group was organising stations for food and water, first aid, and legal advice from social workers. A group of secondary students had come directly from school to bring snacks and fruit to the protesters, who planned to stay there until midnight. Some would camp overnight to keep watch over the supplies.
Some worried that the postponement of the debate was a ruse to throw off demonstrators. A group of university students huddled in a shopping mall near the government buildings, texting contacts to mobilise a group to gather outside the Legislative Council and block any lawmakers in favour of the bill from entering.
???Our only chance is to stop the lawmakers from coming in,??? said Jason Fong, 19, who said lawmakers could go in on Thursday, stay overnight and hold the reading of the bill on Friday.
The crackdown on the protests represented an escalation of police action against demonstrators. Pictures and videos on social media showed police firing rubber bullets and bean-bag rounds from shotguns, teargassing protesters and beating some with batons.
Man-kei Tam, the director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said: ???This excessive response from police is fuelling tensions and is likely to contribute to worsening violence, rather than end it.???
Two protesters treated in hospital were arrested, according to local media. Protesters have been obscuring their faces with masks and using encrypted messaging platforms.
On Wednesday as police were clearing protests, the messaging service Telegram posted on Twitter that it was facing a ???powerful DDos attack???, referring to a distributed denial of service attack, that originated in China.
Despite the wave of opposition, Lam remains determined to put the bill to a vote, which would be likely to pass because of the dominance of pro-Beijing lawmakers in the legislature. Speaking on Wednesday evening, Lam said: ???If I let him have his way every time my son acted like that, such as when he didn???t want to study, things might be OK between us in the short term. But if I indulge his wayward behaviour, he might regret it when he grows up. He will then ask me: ???Mum, why didn???t you call me up on that back then??????? she said.
Lam has the support of Beijing. In an an English-language editorial, the state-run China Daily blamed ???the opposition camp and its foreign masters??? for riling up residents. ???It is lawlessness that will hurt Hong Kong, not the proposed amendments to its fugitive law,??? it said.
The demonstrators disagree, pointing to the sense of community and collaboration fostered. Yau Wai Ping, an associate professor at Hong Kong Baptist University who was participating in a hunger strike, said: ???The protest is bringing people together. The bill affects us all.???
She added: ???We don???t know whether we are going to achieve what we set out to, but long-term I am quite optimistic. So many positive things have come out of this. Long-term it will be the beginning of a new era, of the kind of community and civil society we want to make.???