Photo Essays | Politics

Hong Kong’s Big Week

A photographic look back on the Occupy Central protests.

By Miguel Candela for
Hong Kong’s Big Week

Riot police use pepper spray as they clash with protesters outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, September 28, 2014.

Credit: Miguel Candela
Hong Kong’s Big Week

Moments before anti-government protesters occupy the Legislative Council, September 26, 2014

Credit: Miguel Candela
Hong Kong’s Big Week

Protesters and police officers stand guard during clashes with pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, September 27, 2014.

Credit: Miguel Candela
Hong Kong’s Big Week

An anti-government protester raises his arms in a support of peace, September 30, 2014.

Credit: Miguel Candela
Hong Kong’s Big Week

An Occupy Central supporter stands defiantly in front of police, September 28, 2014.

Credit: Miguel Candela
Hong Kong’s Big Week

An anti-government protester shouts in anger to riot police, September 28, 2014.

Credit: Miguel Candela
Hong Kong’s Big Week

A group of riot police tries to intimidate the protesters, September 28, 2014.

Credit: Miguel Candela
Hong Kong’s Big Week

Pro-democracy protesters run for cover as police fire tear gas, September 28, 2014.

Credit: Miguel Candela
Hong Kong’s Big Week

A protestor is tended to after clashing with riot police outside Hong Kong government complex, September 28, 2014.

Credit: Miguel Candela
Hong Kong’s Big Week

Pro-democracy protesters rest after clashing with the police the previous night, September 29, 2014.

Credit: Miguel Candela

The huge crowds may now be gone, but the repercussions will linger. A new era of civil disobedience in Hong Kong began four days after a student strike was officially declared on Monday, September 22. On that Friday, supporters of Occupy Central with Love and Peace movement took over and occupied government headquarters.

Unhappy at electoral restrictions imposed by Beijing, the protesters began an unprecedented occupation of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon in a bid to put pressure on the government by disrupting the city’s capabilities and commerce. The occupation eased to end this week, with the leaders agreeing to talks with the Hong Kong government.

Remaining remarkably peaceful throughout, protesters barricaded themselves into key touristic and economic areas. Armed with umbrellas for protection from pepper spray and the weather, the protesters earned a new name for the efforts: the Umbrella Revolution.

An overwhelmed police and government initially panicked in response to the massive crowds, deploying tear gas on Sunday, September 28. When that backfired, bringing more outraged citizens onto the streets, authorities shifted to a much more restrained approach. Still, protesters found themselves under attack from other groups, including local residents disgruntled at the disruptions.

Regardless of the immediate outcome, the protests marked Hong Kong’s political awakening, and a new constraint on Beijing’s ability to impose its will.