Several hundred people gathered at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library Saturday afternoon to show their support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Among them was a woman who identified herself as a Hong Kong resident who took part in demonstrations there earlier this summer.

“I guess just knowing that there are other people out there that stand with us will motivate us a lot to keep fighting,” Jayers Ko said. “It’s definitely the darkest and most critical time I’ve been in.”

Holding signs reading "Free Hong Kong" and "Stop Police Brutality," the attendees of the rally enjoyed a much more peaceful scene than those that unfolded across the Pacific Ocean earlier in the day.

In Hong Kong, the Associated Press reported Saturday, protesters threw gasoline bombs at government headquarters and set fires in the streets, while police stormed a subway car and hit passengers with batons and pepper spray.

Police had denied permission for a march to mark the fifth anniversary of a decision by China against fully democratic elections in Hong Kong, but protesters took to the streets anyway, as they have all summer.

They provoked and obstructed the police repeatedly but generally retreated once riot officers moved in, avoiding some of the direct clashes that characterized earlier protests. Still, the scenes seemed certain to inflame tensions further in a city riven by nearly three months of pro-democracy demonstrations.

In Vancouver, previous pro-Hong Kong demonstrations have been met by pro-Beijing counter-protesters, but Saturday's rally did not attract the same response.

Three passers-by were briefly stopped and talked to by Vancouver police officers after they were seen tearing down signs put up by the Hong Kong supporters.

Those people declined to be interviewed by CTV News Vancouver – and it’s not entirely clear what motivated their actions.

Vancouver East Member of Parliament Jenny Kwan spoke at the rally.

“I am so dismayed to see what is going on in my birth place, Hong Kong,” she said, before talking about the estimated 300,000 Canadian citizens living there.

People in attendance said it was important to let those in Hong Kong know that they have support from people in other parts of the world.

“I think it’s about standing together with people who value western liberal democracies and who value the rule of law,” said Will Cheung, who called for the government in Hong Kong to open up a dialogue with the protestors.  

With files from The Associated Press's Ken Moritsugu and Raf Wober