TEMPO.CO, Hong Kong - Hong Kong protesters marched through shopping malls on New Year's Eve urging people not to give up the fight for democracy in 2020, while police were out in force across the city to quell any unrest.
As evening fell, dozens of protesters dropped flowers near the Prince Edward metro station, which was the scene of some of the most violent clashes with the police this summer.
Demonstrators plan a giant human chain later on as well as late-night demonstrations dubbed "Suck the Eve" in the downtown bar and entertainment district of Lan Kwai Fong and the picturesque Victoria Harbour.
Wong, a 22-year-old freelance photographer who gave only his last name, said he did not feel like celebrating New Year.
"I can't even celebrate my birthday. I choose to stand here because at least we can chant a little and it feels like I’m with family," he said.
The protests began in June in response to a now-withdrawn bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, where courts are controlled by the Communist Party, and have evolved into a broader pro-democracy movement.
Many streets were decorated with Christmas lights and other seasonal paraphernalia, but the mood on Tuesday was less than festive as officers in riot gear patrolled the busiest areas.
In a prime shopping mall in the Tsim Sha Tsui area popular with tourists, dozens of protesters chanted pro-democracy slogans and riot police stopped people to search their backpacks.
Authorities have canceled the popular midnight fireworks for the first time in a decade, citing security concerns.
The fireworks usually draw thousands of locals and tourists to the harbor front and the countdown is broadcast worldwide.
They will be replaced with "Symphony of Lights", a multimedia light show involving projections on the city's tallest skyscrapers at the stroke of midnight.
The facade of the waterside Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre was turned into a giant countdown clock.
"Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our time is my New Year wish," said 30-year-old Calvin, who attended a central lunchtime rally.