High school students have gathered a square in downtown Hong Kong to rally for political reforms.

Hundreds of teenagers, wearing black and holding umbrellas in the oppressive heat, turned out for the rally, one of many demonstrations organised by different groups over the coming weeks.

They chanted “Liberate Hong Kong” and “Revolution of our times” and called for Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam, to step down, before breaking into groups to discuss the city’s political future.

Hong Kong has been gripped for more than two months by at times violent protests led by young people demanding the withdrawal of an unpopular extradition bill and full democracy.

The bill, which would have seen suspects extradited to mainland China where the judiciary is not independent, was eventually shelved.

Hong Kong Protests
A protestor holds a sign reading “God bless Hong Kong” during a demonstration by students and others at Edinburgh Place in Hong Kong (Vincent Yu/AP)

On Friday, the movement’s supporters plan to form human chains across the semi-autonomous Chinese city, inspired by a similar event 30 years ago in the Baltic states when hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians joined together to mourn the loss of independence to Soviet rule.

Also on Thursday, two people have been charged with rioting in connection with a July 21 attack, Chief Superintendent Tse Chun-chung said at a daily press briefing.

Masked assailants suspected of ties to organised crime swung bamboo poles and steel rods in the rampage, injuring 45 people, which came as a shocking escalation of the city’s summer of protest.

The charges are the first to be filed against the 28 people arrested after the attack.

Mr Tse said police are awaiting legal advice from the Department of Justice on charges for the other 26 arrested.

Major banks in Hong Kong took out advertisements in some newspapers calling for an end to the political crisis, signalling the financial industry’s support for Ms Lam.

HSBC called for dialogue to resolve differences, in a full-page ad in the pro-Beijing Wen Wei Po.

“We are very concerned about recent social events and strongly condemn any violence and behaviour undermining social order,” the bank said, adding it “fully supports a peaceful approach to finding solutions”.

Standard Chartered said it opposes violence and “firmly supports” the Hong Kong government in effectively maintain social order.

Bank of East Asia took out a smaller ad with a similar message.