Rallies and marches of tens of thousands grew to perhaps almost two million at their peak.
"I was very angry about the proposed law," says Adrian Leong, a former Hong Kong resident and political activist in San Francisco. "Everyone could see themselves getting in trouble."
But supporters of the Beijing government say the proposed law would only allow extradition of people accused of serious crimes, not political dissidents. Western governments and media use the phony extradition issue to foment rifts between Hong Kong and the mainland, they argue.
"They want China to splinter and die," says Nathan Rich, an American YouTube blogger living in China.
To sort out these competing claims, we have to understand some Hong Kong history.