Thousands of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong forced the shut down of a government office on Monday. Police ordered the protestors to disperse and threatened arrests if they did not obey. Widely known as the Umbrella Movement, the participants are demanding free and open elections in a country where candidates are selected by the political elite.
Protesters resisted crowd-control police and pushed their way up to an administrative and legislative complex in the city, prompting the government to close the office. As the demonstration advanced to the headquarters, officials ordered an increased presence of police, wearing heavy riot gear.
Demonstrators, in solidarity, wore safety helmets and goggles while carrying water bottles and umbrellas. The umbrellas are a symbol of peaceful protest and also function as pepper spray shields.
Crowd suppression tactics by riot police escalated with the use of batons and pepper spray, driving protesters back from the complex. According to the New York Times, many similar protests in the region were quashed on Sunday, inciting the protesters to respond en masse to this demonstration after a series of speeches by student leaders.
Four encampments have been set up in streets around Hong Kong, blocking traffic through those areas. The thousands camping in tents there have been allowed to stay so far, but authorities have threatened to disperse the encampments since the shut down incident on Monday.
This protest is a continuation of a series of coordinated, largely student- led but civilian attended, pro-democracy demonstrations that have gone on for more than two months and have resulted in the gathering of more than 100,000 civilians on the day of the largest public turn-out, Reuters reported. They have resolved to continue in their demonstrations of nonviolent civil disobedience until the people of the semi- autonomous island are granted free elections, including the presidential election, for the next cycle.
Demonstrations have lost momentum since the zenith of the movement, as public support for the protests has waned and the number or participants in the streets has dwindled. However, student organizers have maintained their commitment to resisting dispersal and have promised to continue with their nonviolent tactics until their electoral proposal has been enacted.