June 21 (UPI) -- Protests erupted in Hong Kong's political center Wan Chai district Friday after the government failed to squash a controversial extradition bill by a Thursday deadline set by protesters.
Hundreds of protesters clad in black, many of whom slept the night on the street, surrounded the Legislature Council building before marching to the police headquarters, Hong Kong Free Press reported.
Student groups had vowed protests would escalate if their demands weren't met by 5 p.m. Thursday.
Along with rescinding the bill, the student groups are demanding for an investigation into police conduct during the June 12 protest, a retraction from police who called the protest a riot and for all charges dropped against protesters.
Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng offered her "sincere apology" Friday via a blog post on the government's website.
She said while the Department of Justice worked with government officials to explain the bill "there were still deficiencies in the government's work."
"I offer my sincere apology to all people of Hong Kong," she said. "We promise to adopt a most sincere and humble attitude to accept criticism and make improvements in serving the public."
Protests, however, continued in front of police headquarters as planned with pro-democracy lawmakers Lam Cheuk-ting and Au Nok-hin demanding the resignations of Secretary for Security John Lee and Police Commissioner Stephen Lo for police having used tear gas and fired rubber bullets to disperse crowds June 12. Police had described the protest as a "riot situation" in which 72 people were injured.
The former British colony has been engulfed in protests since June 9 when over a million people took to the streets against an extradition bill that would see some criminal suspects sent to face Communist Party-controlled courts on mainland China.
Hong Kong Executive Chief Carrie Lam then suspended the bill, but protests continued last Sunday growing to some 2 million people now demanding for her resignation along with the bill being rescinded.
On Tuesday, Lam held a press conference to apologize, but instead of resigning she said she has "much to learn."
Hong Kong functions under a "one country, two systems" concept, which means it runs its own institutions, separate from Bejing control.
Opponents to the extradition bill see it as a further whittling away of Hong Kong's freedoms under Chinese pressure.