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The Umbrella Revolution

Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement takes to the streets.

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HONG KONG - SEPTEMBER 28: Protesters clash with riot police on September 27, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of people kicked off Occupy Central by taking over Connaught Road, one of the major highway in Hong Kong, in protest against Beijing's conservative framework for political reform. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)


Hong Kong was shaken to its core on Sept. 28, when police in riot gear weilded tear gas and rubber bullets against youth-led pro-democracy protesters — whose numbers are estimated to have swelled into the tens of thousands. The resulting standoff is ongoing. The island city, a former British colony and now a special administrative region of China, has increasingly clashed with Beijing, which has backtracked from the promise of universal suffrage in Hong Kong by requiring that Beijing pre-approve all candidates for the island’s head of government. Protesters quickly improvised by using saran wrap and umbrellas to shield themselves from tear gas; as dark descended on Sept. 28, many of them lay down to sleep. Protests continued the next day, and after midnight — now Sept. 30 in Hong Kong time — as protesters, blocking certain Hong Kong streets, continue to hold their ground.

 

Above, riot police spray pepper spray at a protester in Hong Kong, Sept. 27.

 

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Pro-democracy protesters gather at a rally in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay area, Sept. 29.

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A pro-democracy protester confronts police, Sept. 28. Hong Kong’s business district stands in the background.

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Pro-democracy protesters raise their hands in front of police, Sept. 28.

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Police fire tear gas at demonstrators near Hong Kong’s government headquarters, Sept. 28. The umbrellas, used to protect against the tear gas, have become symbols of the movement.

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Riot policemen take position opposite pro-democracy demonstrators, Sept. 28. Many Hong Kong residents were surprised at the show of force.

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A clash with riot police, Sept. 28.

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A pro-democracy demonstrator pours water over the face of a man exposed to tear gas, Sept. 28. Police had fired tear gas at a rally near Hong Kong’s government headquarters.

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Protesters wave their cell phones in the streets outside the Hong Kong Government Complex, Sept. 29.

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Hong Kong policemen in the Admiralty district rest following pro-democracy protests, Sept. 29.

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A pro-democracy protester wears plastic wrap over her glasses to protect herself from pepper spray at a rally near Hong Kong’s government headquarters, Sept. 28.

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Pro-democracy protesters rest around empty buses as they block Nathan Road, a major route through the heart of Hong Kong’s Kowloon district, Sept. 29.

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Protesters disperse after police fired tear gas near Hong Kong’s government headquarters, Sept. 28.

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Pro-democracy demonstrators clash with police officers in riot gear during a rally near Hong Kong’s government headquarters, Sept. 28.

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Pro-democracy demonstrators rest after a night of protesting at a rally outside the Hong Kong government headquarters, Sept. 29.

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Protestors and student demonstrators hold up their cellphones in a display of solidarity during a protest outside Hong Kong’s Legislative Council headquarters, Sept. 29.

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Police officers face pro-democracy protesters near Hong Kong’s police headquarters in the city’s Wan Chai area, Sept. 29.

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Protesters parade a large cut-out of the head of Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung in the streets outside the Hong Kong Government Complex, Sept. 29.

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A pro-democracy demonstrator raises an umbrella after police fired tear gas at protesters near Hong Kong’s government headquarters, Sept. 28.

Xaume Olleros/AFP/Getty Images

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