Hong Kong (CNN) — After a day of tense protests in Hong Kong in which at least 38 people were injured, organizers called on tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators in the Chinese territory to head home late Sunday.
But early Monday morning, it appeared many of the protesters were set to continue to jam streets of the business district.
The sometimes violent demonstrations follow a week of student-led boycotts and protests against what many see as the encroachment of China’s political will on Hong Kong’s governance. They were responding to China’s decision to allow only Beijing-vetted candidates to stand in the city’s elections for chief executive, Hong Kong’s top civil position.
One student group, fearing police might use rubber bullets, asked late Sunday for demonstrators to leave. But while the mood at the primary protest had calmed, there was no large exodus.
Not all protest leaders were calling for people to leave. Pro-democracy activist and lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, known by many as “Long Hair,” cheered on those who were staying.
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“Our demands have not changed. This is a peaceful civil disobedience protest,” he called out over a loudspeaker as midnight approached.
Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former Catholic Bishop of Hong Kong and a leader of Occupy Central, was one of the organizers who called for demonstrators to disperse.
“Please go home, don’t sacrifice your lives,” he said to the protesters. Dialogue is impossible at this point, he told them.
At least 38 people were injured and hospitalized, the Hong Kong Information Services Department said Sunday. A spokesman gave no details on the extent of the injuries. The department earlier said six police officers were injured, but it was unclear whether they were included in the 38 figure.
Several of the young people occupying the business district told CNN they were going to stay overnight.
The student-led protests, which were joined Sunday by the like-minded Occupy Central movement, have sought to occupy government property and shut down the business district.
Arrests, batons, tear gas
In an early morning video statement addressed to all Hong Kong residents, Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung called for people to leave. He said police have exercised the greatest possible restraint in dealing with the protesters.
Riot police have occasionally wielded batons against protesters. They have also used pepper spray, and tear gas has been deployed against more than one group of protesters around the Central Government Offices. There were more reports of tear gas early Monday.
Protesters wore goggles or masks and raincoats, and many held umbrellas to protect against the possible use of pepper spray.
Early Monday, dozens of protesters moved barricades to block a main thoroughfare.