#UmbrellaRevolution

Caroline Albacete ‘17 and Grace Doerfler ‘18, Arts and Entertainment Editor and Staff Writer

What: Protests for democracy in Hong Kong following a government announcement of reforms to the electoral system.

Where: Hong Kong, China

When: September – December 2014

 

The Central Government Complex (“Civic Square”), Hong Kong. September 26, 2014. As several hundred protesters led by Joshua Wong flooded Civic Square, police officers began to cordon off the area. The next day, the protesters were forcibly evicted from the, formerly, public square. Two days later, on September 28, a movement called Occupy Central with Peace and Love took over the area, and police and officials began fighting the masses.

In September 2014, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China announced its decision to reform the electoral system, starting with the termination of Hong Kong’s civil nominations.  As the decision reached the people, pro-democracy protests sparked throughout the city, led largely by students. For days, different movements sprang up, including Occupy Central and the Umbrella Movement, blockading sections of highways and staging protests. Several times, violence erupted during these protests, leading to the police use of pepper spray and tear gas. The Umbrella Movement earned its name during these violent demonstrations, when student protesters used yellow umbrellas as shields against the tear gas and pepper spray.

For two months the protests and demonstrations continued, as the people of Hong Kong took a stand to maintain their system of government and elections. Social media sites helped inflame the sense of injustice and spur on the people with iconic hashtags such as #OccupyCentral and #UmbrellaRevolution. Police and officials fought back by trying to separate protesters from their families, as in one famous case, when a fourteen-year-old girl was taken from her father and put in a children’s home. Her father was accused of negligence because he allowed his daughter to join the protests. Fortunately, the girl was reunited with her father shortly before the New Year. However, the notoriety and strength of the demonstrations and such iconic stories could not last forever. In December, as the protests faded and attention waned, the people of Hong Kong left one last message: We’ll be back. As protesters reunited with their families and life returned to the way it was, Hong Kong was left with one question: When?