Student leader Joshua Wong said he did not expect clashes when he rallied protesters to enter Civic Square outside government headquarters at the height of the 2014 street occupation.
Wong, 18, founder of student activist group Scholarism, told a magistrates’ court that their actions in the Sept. 26 incident were based on “peaceful and rational principles”.
He said the group had planned a three-day sit-in to press the government for talks, Apple Daily reports.
Civic Square was chosen because of its proximity to the central government offices, Wong said.
He said they had learned their lesson after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying met them only once during an anti-national education protest in 2012.
Wong is accused of inciting others and participating in an illegal assembly.
He said they had planned to enter the square, declared off-limits to the public by the police, by piggybacking on reporters and employees.
When he climbed over a fence to get to the other side, he was merely following others, Wong said.
However, Wong said he did not expect their actions to erupt in violence, adding no one had been ejected from the public square before.
Asked by the prosecution if he considered injuring security guards as a peaceful action, Wong said yes but added he expected to be asked to leave, not manhandled.
He said he was surprised at being surrounded by police officers and being held in a police station for 46 hours.
Co-defendant Nathan Law, 22, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS), said his group had discussed whether they should break into Civic Square.
Even so, the move did not mean they were going to charge the police, he said.
Law, also charged with inciting others and participating in an illegal assembly, said their presence in Civic Square made it harder for the government to ignore their demands for a peaceful dialogue.
A third accused, former HKFS secretary general Alex Chow, will appear in court on Friday, charged with taking part in an unlawful assembly.
The hearing continues.
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