Photo/Illutration Protesters display open palm with five fingers, signifying the "Five demands - not one less", during the Labor Day in Hong Kong, on May 1, amid the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo)

HONG KONG--Hong Kong police used pepper spray on Friday to disperse over a hundred protesters in a shopping mall who were singing and chanting pro-democracy slogans.

The demonstrators sang the protest anthem “Glory to Hong Kong” and chanted “Glory to Hong Kong, revolution of our times” in the New Town Plaza mall in Hong Kong's New Territories.

As protesters gathered in the mall, riot police stopped and searched some and later told them to leave, saying they were violating social-distancing rules. The police then sprayed tear gas to disperse the crowd before cordoning off the atrium of the mall.

The protest was one of several that went ahead on May 1, Labor Day, despite rules that forbid public gatherings of more than four people.

Small groups of protesters also gathered near Kowloon’s Mong Kok and Kwun Tong subway stations.

Organizers initially planned citywide protests but many were canceled, with the organizers urging people to support pro-democracy restaurants instead.

Friday's protests were the latest in a string of demonstrations over the past week in which protesters gathered in shopping malls. They follow the arrest of 15 pro-democracy activists and former lawmakers last Saturday.

The demonstrations are a continuation of a movement that began last June to protest an extradition bill that would have allowed detainees in Hong Kong to be transferred to mainland China. Although the bill was later withdrawn, the demonstrations continued for months before a lull starting in January as the coronavirus pandemic broke out.