Tensions between Hong Kong riot police and students escalated Sunday when tens of thousands of supporters in the southern Chinese city gathered to support the Occupy Central with Love and Peace movement to shut down Central Hong Kong’s financial district. An estimated 80,000 protesters gathered Saturday in the populous region to demand fairness and democracy, following China’s decision to eliminate free elections. A number of students Friday were pepper sprayed when they broke through police barriers and gained access to the city’s government headquarters.

Some of the protest’s organizers used social media outlets like Twitter to gather supporters.







Thousands of protestors of all ages answered the call, and many were arrested or pepper sprayed by Chinese riot police.

Last month, Beijing officials ignored demands to allow citizens to elect their next leader.

"It's high time that we really showed that we want to be free and not to be slaves. ... We must unite together," Cardinal Joseph Zen, 82, former Catholic Bishop of Hong Kong, told Reuters.

The protest drew an estimated 80,000 participants, marking it as one of the largest protests in post-colonial Hong Kong.

The movement essentially shut down the entire area, which filled with metal blockades and tens of thousands of frustrated protesters. Occupy organizers originally planned to invade Central Oct. 1, China's National Day, but the rally will now take part in the Admiralty district as part of the weeklong demonstrations.