Pro-democracy protests escalated in Hong Kong as hundreds of thousands people filled the streets on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 31, and into the night, after a series of arrests and the government ban of the mass rally.

Saturday’s march was planned to coincide with the fifth anniversary of China’s 8.31 Decision to reject an appeal for universal suffrage for Hong Kong that generated the 79-day “Umbrella Movement” in 2014.

One organizer known as “Ling-Ling” told Breitbart News that protesters are trying to stave off the slow but methodical encroachment into Hong Kong life.

“China has been buying up bookstores and publication houses,” Ling-Ling said, “and communist literature is becoming the norm in bookstore windows, something completely foreign to our traditions here.”

Hongkongers worry their democracy is eroding as they still vote for their representatives who, however, selected by nominating committee dominated by pro-Beijing members.

On Thursday, Aug. 29, China’s military brought fresh troops into Hong Kong, amounting to an estimated 6,000 and 10,000.

Policemen in riot gear on a street as they confront protesters in Hong Kong, Aug. 14, 2019. (Vincent Yu/AP)

On Friday morning, police rounded up at least eight opposition figures, including Joshua Wong Chi-fung, and Agnes Chow Ting and pro-democracy lawmakers. The two student were charged with inciting others to participate in unauthorized assembly and were granted bail of $1,275 each and given a curfew, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

“We will continue our fight no matter how they arrest and prosecute us,” Wong said outside the courtroom. “We shall not surrender.”

Protesters on Saturday night became more contentious, using brick sidewalks as weapons to clash with riot police who armed with tear gas, water guns and rubber bullets, as well as live ammunition.

Protesters shine laser pointers on the Government Headquarters complex in Hong Kong, on Aug. 18, 2019. Heavy rain fell on tens of thousands of umbrella-toting protesters Sunday as they marched from a packed park and filled a major road in Hong Kong, where mass pro-democracy demonstrations have become a regular weekend activity over the summer. (Vincent Thian/AP Photo)

The unrest was initially ignited by widespread objection to a bill that would have allowed extradition of criminal suspect to China mainland, entering its 13th weekend.

U.S. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced support for pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and urged world leaders to weigh in on their business with Beijing.

“World leaders should pay attention to the ongoing crackdown and recent arrests of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong. It should not be business as usual until Beijing respects Hong Kong’s autonomy and political freedoms,” he tweeted.