Thousands attend Hong Kong Tiananmen memorials

Hong Kong police arrested several protesters-

after thousands defied a ban to stage candlelight rallies in memory of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on Thursday (June 4).

Reuters witnesses said that scuffles briefly broke out in Mong Kok,

where hundreds had gathered and some demonstrators tried to set up roadblocks with metal barriers, prompting officers to use pepper spray.

The annual vigil in Hong Kong was banned by police this year, citing the coronavirus.

Officials have repeatedly said a ban on groups larger than eight is a public health measure with no political motivation.

Earlier, a few thousand people joined a peaceful main rally in Victoria Park, lighting candles and chanting.

The anniversary has struck an especially sensitive nerve in Hong Kong this year after China's move last month to impose national security legislation, and the passage of a bill outlawing disrespect of China's national anthem on Thursday.

June 4 commemorations are banned in mainland China.