Hong Kong authorities on Wednesday charged 44 people with rioting for their alleged roles in Sunday's protest against now-suspended extradition legislation, while hundreds of supporters, braving typhoon-strength weather, stood in solidarity outside the courthouse.
They are the first group of protesters from the weeks-long demonstration against the bill to be charged with the serious offense, which carries a maximum 10-year prison term.
Hundreds of protesters clashed with police near China's Liaison Office in western Hong Kong Island late Sunday. Police arrested 49 people.
One of the 44 suspects failed to appear in court and an arrest warrant was issued, local media reported.
Separately, a man was charged with possession of a weapon.
The suspects were freed on bail, pending their next court appearance on Sept. 25.
Chants of "There's no riot, only tyranny" "Release the martyrs" and "Hong Kongers, keep it up," could be heard coming from the large crowd outside the Eastern Law Courts Building.
The announcement of the charges late Tuesday drew hundreds of supporters at a police station where the accused were being held. Officers in riot gear failed to disperse the crowd, prompting one officer to reportedly briefly brandish his shotgun at the crowd.
A handful of reporters from different media were reportedly injured as they were chased away by police wielding batons and shields.
People in Hong Kong began taking to the streets in June in opposition to the government's effort to amend a law that would allow the transfer of fugitives to mainland China and other jurisdictions.
While the territory's chief executive, Carrie Lam, has since suspended the legislative process in an attempt to restore calm, protesters are calling for the bill's full withdrawal.
Their demands have also grown to include greater democracy, the release of those arrested and an inquiry into alleged police misconduct.