HONG KONG — The Hong Kong police on Thursday blocked plans for a weekend march in a satellite town where a mob of men armed with sticks and poles had earlier injured dozens of people in an attack apparently designed to intimidate participants in a weekslong protest movement.
The march organizer said he would appeal, and some protesters have signaled that they will go ahead with the event whether it is approved or not, a sign that police opposition and increasingly strident denunciations from Chinese officials and local leaders are doing little to curb the demonstrations.
The march was planned for Saturday in the town of Yuen Long, where thugs believed to be connected with organized crime groups attacked people in and around a train station. The attackers, who were dressed in white shirts, were apparently targeting people who were coming home from earlier demonstrations. They lashed out indiscriminately, injuring journalists, a lawmaker, and protesters as well as people with no connection to the protests.
The police said that holding a march in Yuen Long, close to villages where some of the attackers fled Sunday night, raised the likelihood of further violence.
The police added that they had received 13 letters from Yuen Long district leaders and 1,700 letters from members of the public worried about the safety of the planned march and some urging the police to reject its permit application.
The march organizer, Max Chung, said that he would walk the route on his own if his proposal were rejected. Some people posted suggestions for alternative excuses to gather in Yuen Long, including shopping trips and a sarcastic memorial event for Li Peng, the former Chinese premier who died Monday and who was widely loathed for his role in the 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen protest movement.
The authorities have been widely criticized for their slow response to the violence in Yuen Long. The police made no arrests on the night of the attacks, even though officers were seen speaking to men carrying sticks. The police have since arrested 12 men suspected of participating in the attacks, including nine with connections to triads, the organized crime groups who are thought to have carried out the violence.
Police officials said their force had been spread thin by a protest march that took place earlier that day in a different part of Hong Kong.
That protest began as a peaceful demonstration against a government proposal, now suspended, to allow extraditions to mainland China and also to call for an independent investigation into accusations of police brutality against protesters.