The violence interrupted almost two weeks of calm in Hong Kong, which has been gripped by a turbulent pro-democracy movement since June.
Police officers outside Ngau Tau Kok police station fired tear gas into the crowd after protesters began throwing bricks, bamboo sticks and petrol bombs at them.
Protesters used an electric saw to slice through the bottom of the lamppost, while others pulled ropes tied around it.
Protesters smashed surveillance cameras installed on the streets, saying that the cameras violate citizens' privacy. The government claims the lampposts are only meant to collect data on traffic, weather and air quality.
Leo Wong, a 21-year-old university student, told HKFP he chose to join Saturday's rally to call on the government to agree to protesters' five demands.
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Tear gas swept across the road as protesters retreated, leaving a trail of broken bottles and at least one small fire in their wake.
"I urge the world to lift the veil Beijing has put on Hong Kong, to know that freedom and democracy are the only thing Hong Kong people are fighting for", he continued.
"We have tried traditional processions, more militant steps - although I don't agree with these - and now we are coming out together to hold hands and show that we are still united", said Wing, one of the participating protesters. He failed to return home to Hong Kong from an August 8 meeting in the adjacent Chinese city of Shenzhen.
The report attributed the information to police in the Luohu district of the Chinese border city of Shenzhen, where Cheng had been traveling on business on August 8 in his role as a trade officer.
HSBC and Standard Chartered have been coerced into issuing fulsome condemnations of the protests, following criticism in the Communist media, the MTR has gone so far as to announce it will no longer provide train services to transport the massive numbers of people taking part in protests and now the Big Four accountancy firms are being lined up for Cultural Revolution-style denunciation.
Protests had previously slipped into violence, with running street clashes between police and a minority of hardcore demonstrators bringing chaos to a city normally associated with safety and stability.
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Lau said MTR was working with the government to "suppress freedom of expression".
The protesters' aim was to link people all the way from Tsuen Wan to Tsim Sha Tsui and Yau Tong on the Kowloon side, and from Kennedy Town to Chai Wan on Hong Kong Island, in a peaceful demonstration across 39 MTR stations.
Police said Cheng was released as scheduled on Saturday and that his legal rights and interests had been observed.
According to Shin, the counter-protests are cropping up now because Beijing is recognizing that the protests in Hong Kong, which are entering their 12th consecutive week, aren't going away.
Mr Cheng is a trade and investment officer at the Scottish Development International section of the British Consulate General in Hong Kong.
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China often uses public order charges against political targets and has sometimes used the charge of soliciting prostitution.