September 30, 2014 10:32 am
Updated: September 30, 2014 10:37 am

Why the umbrella became a symbol of Hong Kong’s protests

Umbrellas of pro-democracy demonstrators are placed on a road during a protest in Hong Kong on September 30, 2014


Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have set a Wednesday deadline for a response from the government to meet their demands for reforms.

The so-called “umbrella revolution” has taken hold as the symbol of the demonstrations after crowds in the Asian financial hub began to reportedly use umbrellas to not only block the sun, but also to deflect police pepper spray.

Video: Taiwan’s opposition party offers support to Hong Kong protesters

On Monday night, thousands blocked the streets in the Asian financial hub in an unprecedented show of civil disobedience after the demonstrations turned “violent” Sunday evening when police used pepper spray and tear gas to try to stop people from joining students who had gathered near the city government headquarters two days earlier.

A man takes part in a pro-democracy protest in Admiralty district in Hong Kong on September 30, 2014.


“The umbrella is probably the most striking symbol of this Hong Kong protest. Our demonstrations used to be so peaceful, even pepper spray was very out of the ordinary,” said Claudia Mo, a pro-democracy lawmaker in an interview with AFP.

“Now that pepper spray has become so common, we’re having to use umbrellas against it.”

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“The police have very high-quality shields — we just have our umbrellas.”

The mostly peaceful protests began over a week ago as college students boycotted classes, but have gained support from other Hong Kong residents and political activists as the demonstrations spread across the city.

READ MORE: Hong Kong protests – Beijing won’t back down

Demonstrators want a reversal of a decision by China’s government in August that a pro-Beijing panel will screen all candidates in the territory’s first direct elections, scheduled for 2017 – a move they view as reneging on a promise that the chief executive will be chosen through “universal suffrage.”

A woman takes a picture of her children in front of an umbrella drawn on the floor in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong on September 30, 2014.


Some protesters are calling for the city’s unpopular current chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, to step down.

Now, thousands are using the umbrella to represent the movement, with many writing political slogans calling for freedom on the parasols.

Stacks of umbrellas are ready for pro-democracy protesters’ use to shield themselves from pepper spray Monday, Sept. 29, 2014 in Hong Kong.

On Monday, a photo of a protester with an umbrella walking in tear gas fired by riot police went viral on social media with many dubbing him as the “Umbrella Man.”

On Facebook, Hong Kong artist Kacey Wong has launched an online contest for a logo to represent the revolution.

“The top 3 prizes for this competition will be JUSTICE, DEMOCRACY, and FREEDOM,” says Wong in a post.

Many younger Hong Kong residents raised in an era of plenty and with no experience of past political turmoil in mainland China have higher expectations.

Under an agreement set in 1984, before most of them were born, Beijing promised to allow Hong Kong residents civil liberties unseen on the mainland after it took control of the city of 7.1 million in 1997.

© 2014 Shaw Media

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