Hong Kong Demonstrators Rally Outside Toyota Center Ahead of Rockets Game

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Protestors gathered outside the Toyota Center ahead of the Rockets game to support Hong Kong.

Protestors in support of Hong Kong have made their presence known at the Toyota Center in Houston through the Rockets' first two home games of the regular season.

After occupying a section behind the Rockets' south basket during the home opener on Thursday, a coalition of approximately 35 people rallied outside the Toyota Center prior to the team's game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday evening, according to ESPN.

The group expressed its support for Hong Kong by wearing black shirts that read "Fight For Freedom" and "China, Stop Bullying" on either side. In addition, protestors displayed American flags, held various signs that promoted free speech and presented a gold banner that stated, "Hong Kong's fight is everyone's fight." 

The latest rally was organized by the same local groups that arranged Thursday night's demonstrators, the Vietnamese Community of Houston and Vicinities and Texas for Hong Kong. Thursday's display, which totaled roughly 30 members, involved holding up signs in support of Hong Kong during stoppages in play.

On Saturday, the protest made its way from outside the Center into the entrance plaza, where the group chanted, "Stand for freedom, no censorship," "Morey" and "NBA" before the game began that evening.

All of this stems from Rockets GM Daryl Morey's tweet from Oct. 4, which stated support for Hong Kong's fight for freedom and has since been deleted. In response to the tweet, China and the Chinese Basketball Association started severing some of their ties with Houston and the NBA.

While NBA games have begun to be streamed in China again through Tencent, an ESPN partner, the Rockets still have not appeared on the platform since the incident. 

Outside Houston, movements in support of Hong Kong have also occurred throughout the NBA. A Lakers fan raised nearly $43,000 to distribute "Stand With Hong Kong" shirts at the team's season opener on Oct. 22, while fans wearing shirts with similar messages also appeared at a Brooklyn Nets preseason game on Oct. 18.