The Latest: Hong Kong rally ends early amid violence

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Hong Kong Protests

Black-clad protesters wearing goggles and masks approach barricades outside government offices in Hong Kong, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. Thousands of people gathered Saturday for a rally in downtown Hong Kong, belting out songs, speeches and slogans to mark the fifth anniversary of the start of the 2014 Umbrella protest movement that called for democratic reforms in the semiautonomous Chinese territory. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

HONG KONG (AP) — The Latest on protests in Hong Kong (all times local):

9 p.m.

A pro-democracy rally in downtown Hong Kong has ended early amid sporadic violence, with police firing tear gas and a water cannon after protesters threw bricks and Molotov cocktails at government offices.

Police said in a statement that some "violent protesters" had damaged property outside the government buildings and aimed laser beams at a helicopter, posing "a serious threat to the safety of everyone" at the scene.

Protesters streamed onto a main road nearby and some targeted government buildings that were barricaded. Police initially used a hose to fire pepper spray after some demonstrators threw bricks. A water cannon truck later fired a blue liquid, used to identify protesters, after protesters lobbed gasoline bombs through the barriers.

Protesters used umbrellas to shield themselves and retreated but returned after that.

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7:10 p.m.

A small group of protesters has kicked and attempted to scale barricades outside the Hong Kong government office complex, prompting riot police to fire pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

The protesters, clad fully in black and wearing goggles and masks, kicked the metal fencing and heckled police. Some tried to climb the plastic barricades but retreated after police officers behind the barriers fired pepper spray.

The protesters returned and police again used pepper spray. The scene repeated several times and some journalists at the scene were also hit by the spray.

It happened as a pro-democracy rally began at a park nearby, with thousands of people chanting slogans and listening to speeches on a makeshift stage.

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6:40 p.m.

Thousands of people have started to gather at a park in downtown Hong Kong, belting out songs and chanting slogans to mark the fifth anniversary of the Umbrella protests that called for democratic reforms in the semiautonomous Chinese territory.

Police, who approved Saturday's rally at Tamar Park by the Civil Human Rights Front, mounted tight security with barriers blocking access to government offices and the Legislative Council building that was stormed by protesters in July.

Protesters unfurled a big banner that read "We are back" on a footbridge to the government office. Walls along a staircase leading to the bridge were filled with posters in a throwback to 2014, when protesters occupied key thoroughfares in the same area for 79 days but failed to win any government concessions.

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2:05 p.m.

Prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong has announced plans to contest local elections and warns that any attempt to disqualify him will only spur more support for monthslong pro-democracy protests.

His announcement comes ahead of a major rally Saturday to mark the fifth anniversary of the Umbrella protests, where he first shot to fame as a youth leader. During the Umbrella Movement, protesters occupied key thoroughfares in the city for 79 days to demand free elections for the city's leaders but failed to win any concession.

Wong says he will run in district council elections in November and that the vote is crucial to send a message to Beijing that the people are more determined than ever to win the battle for more rights.