Umbrellas vs Tear Gas

Front-line drawings and dispatches from Hong Kong and #OccupyCentral

6 p.m. Saturday, Hong Kong

Studying in the Streets

Connaught Road, at Admiralty, has eight lanes. Just in front of the Central Government Headquarters, four lanes are occupied by students. But these students are studying and doing homework. A few volunteer carpenters are working all day to improve this area. They provide tables, benches, and chairs for people to sit and stay comfortable. Today was full of young students doing his homework. Seeing the determination of these youth of Hong Kong, how they resume protests every day, and how they show responsibility for their duties, makes me think that the Occupy Central movement will not dissolve readily. — Adolfo Arranz

10 p.m. Wednesday, Hong Kong

An Occupy Icon at Admiralty

Even at 10 in the evening, the occupied area of Admiralty is buzzing with people. Right next to one of the main bridges, a female anti-protester is screaming and filming some of the protesters around her. Some of them start talking back at her, but they are quickly asked by their fellow protesters to take a step back, as they clearly want to prevent any fight from breaking out.

Up on the bridge, some of the protesters have set up little stations where people can either come and look at illustrations or even make some themselves (basic faces are drawn on papers which people can add on whatever they like).

Below the bridge, sounds of screams and laughter can be heard. A big screen has been set up by some of the protesters, along with a projector, showing a movie for anyone who wants to watch (about twenty people or so are sitting on the ground in front of it).

Further away, on the other side of the road, along the staircase which leads up to the Government Building, thousands of Post-its cover the walls that run along it, filled with messages from people supporting the protest.

Not far from the staircase stands this large, wooden statue of a man holding a yellow umbrella, which has become somewhat of an icon for the Occupy movement. A young protester carrying a face-mask with protective goggles hanging from his neck stops for a minute in front of the statue, looking up at it in contemplative silence. One wonders, as the government has claimed a firm stand against the protests, and the protesters themselves seem to get more settled in on the site each day (without any indication of leaving before they get what they want), how this is going to finally end.— Andreas von Buddenbrock

9:00 p.m. Monday, Hong Kong


About a block away from Connaught Road in Admiralty (where most of the protesting have been going on), people from all around have gathered to watch a group of protesters who are building a new barrier in the middle of of the otherwise busy Queensway Road. Soon, a big truck shows up, which is being allowed to pass on the side of the barricade to great applauds, continuing down the road. Only a few minutes later, another large crowd of people can be seen in the direction in which the truck went. It appears soon that the truck was unloading a significant amount of bamboo rods (usually used for construction-sites around Hong Kong) of which the protesters are now trying to figure out how to make the best use of. After a short meeting they all start lifting the long sticks, binding them together into a large, grid-like structure (also done with the help of trash bins). When the new barricade is near its completion, about twenty to thirty policemen show up to the scene and stand in a long row reaching from one side of the road to the other, facing the barrier. After a while, some of the protesters start sitting down between the police and the barricade.
—Andreas von Buddenbrock

2:00 p.m. Sunday, Hong Kong


Nathan road is closed in many sections by barricades. It is built from debris materials, pallets, fences, boards, etc. across these remains protesters have mounted a Catholic altar. Religious images and a great cross presides over this barricade. Just when I finished the drawing held a Mass in the middle roadblock. — Adolfo Arranz

1:00 a.m. Sunday, Hong Kong

Seated Protest

Even in Mong Kok, the amount of protesters seem to have started to grow once more. At the moment, the area feels much more peaceful than it did last weekend (when all the violence broke out), and it looks like the police are now once again back at acting as a presence, rather than taking action against the occupiers. A group of three young protesters are sitting on an open space on Mong Kok Road as some policemen are standing near them while others walk by without interfering. —Andreas von Buddenbrock

9:00 p.m. Saturday, Hong Kong

Folding Umbrellas

People attend an origami umbrella-folding workshop at street. All attentive to the teacher to follow step by step how to build a paper umbrella. The teacher yellow papers distributed among the attendees. Many manage to make the umbrella smoothly, others need a little help, learners do not hesitate to ask the teacher. Even in this festive atmosphere, are taken very seriously in paper manufacture the symbol “umbrella movement.
Adolfo Arranz

6:30 p.m. Saturday, Hong Kong


As I enter Admiralty, I notice that there are now a sufficiently larger amount of protester here, compared to just a few days ago. Four of these protesters (three middle-aged and one young man), it appears, have started their own deconstruction as well as reconstruction of one part of the barrier which divides the highway. To make it easier for people to pass over it, these protesters have taken on the job to first dismount some of its iron plates, followed by the constructing of a “staircase” out of wooden boards and other materials. Along with the materials, the men have also brought tools like hammers, nails and a saw. It certainly does not look like these protesters intend to leave Admiralty anytime soon.
—Andreas von Buddenbrock

7:00 p.m. Friday, Hong Kong

Still Charged

In the subway exit in Admiralty, young activists have mounted a battery charging center for mobile and devices. A tangle of wires connect dozens of devices with the main charger, the boys, as usual, well-organized index cards filled with information of people who leave their mobile recharge. All free!
Adolfo Arranz

5:00 p.m. Friday, Hong Kong


At the barricades on the very edge of the occupied area in Mong Kok (which has become sufficiently smaller during this week), a small shrine has been set up by the protesters. Though most people surrounding it are taking pictures, from time to time, someone will walk up, light an incense and pray silently before walking away. I ask a man standing next to me what the shrine is about, and he tells me that the protesters are praying to Guan Gong, who was a general in ancient China. According to the man, Guan Gong is looked upon as someone who fought for his people, and that this would essentially make him a sort of symbol and protector of the people protesting. —Andreas von Buddenbrock

5:00 p.m. Thursday, Hong Kong

The Leaders

Outside the main gates of the government building, a growing number of reporters (and protesters) have started to arrive. It soon turns out that they’re all waiting for the main leaders of the occupy movement to hold a press-conference, about a day exactly from a pending meeting between the movement and the government. As reporters are recharging their mikes and cameras and compete for the best spot to stand on (some bring plastic stools to get a higher vantage-point), the leaders of the occupy-groups soon arrive to the scene. Per peoples’ request, they start off by silently posing for the cameras. After that is done, the conference can begin.
—Andreas von Buddenbrock

9:00 p.m. Wednesday, Hong Kong

Food for the Hungry

Among the now somewhat small gathering of protesters in Admiralty (compared to last week), a group of people have formed in a semi-circle around a young, male speaker. People in the crowd are nodding their heads and clapping, as the man (who is French) talks about the peacefulness shown by the protesters during this whole demonstration. A few feet away from the crowd, a woman is pushing a trolley with boxes, accompanied by a man and another, younger women. They move from protester to protester, handing out food to anyone who is hungry. One of the protesters walks up to the trolley and is handed some food by the man, while the younger of the women hands him paper napkins. —Andreas von Buddenbrock

4:00 p.m. Monday, Hong Kong

All That is Left

On a bed in the the middle of Nathan Road, Mong Kok, a man is lying in the late afternoon sun. Being one of the few protesters left on the site, he switches back and forth from posing to the cameras of curious people passing by, to seamlessly resting amidst all the people and the noise around him. As the police have started to take down parts of the barricades and opened several of the streets that have been closed for over a week, it looks like this man and about a hundred other people are all that is left of the protesters in the occupied area of Mong Kok. This does not seam to bother the man though, as he is seen smiling most of the time.
—Andreas von Buddenbrock

8:30 p.m. Sunday, Hong Kong

Keeping Charged

In a corner near one of the exits at Admiralty station, protesters have set up a small area which serves as a charging-station for peoples’ electronics. Here, members of the protest (most likely the students in majority) can plug in their smart-phones, iPads and digital cameras to power-boxes which lets them recharge their batteries if need be. A young woman has sat down to get some help with her phone and possibly wait while it’s being charged, though I’m being told by one of the young men working here that he and a few others have taken on the task to guard peoples’ electronic equipment if they decide to leave the area. —Andreas von Buddenbrock

4:30 p.m. Sunday, Hong Kong


For the past few days, protesters have had to endure some resistance from people who claim that they are against this now week-long demonstration. As I enter Admiralty, two men are standing by the sidewalk, screaming at each other. One of the younger protesters explain that the older man with the umbrella is on the side of the anti-protesters, and although I can hear the other man shouting angrily, he still has a smile on his face from time to time. It soon becomes clear that the protester isn’t taking the older man seriously, and that the people here are still quite peaceful. The main focus of the crowd today though, I soon realize, is a man that has climbed on top of one of the bridges crossing the populated highway. According to the people, the man has been standing up there since 1PM, and refuses to come down until he gets to talk with the leaders of the protest. Even in this case, the protesters do not seem very alarmed of the situation; Some of them claim that the man is a hired actor, which would explain why. When the man finally decides to step down after several hours, he does so to loud applauds. —Andreas von Buddenbrock

2:30 p.m. Sunday, Hong Kong


Two young protesters made their homework sitting on the street. Many of the protesters are middle school students, but with a high degree of responsibility, in addition to cleaning, recycling, mutual aid, take adaventage from the protest to study and do exercises in textbooks. Think see a similar situation in Europe or US it would be unthinkable. — Adolfo Arranz

2:00 p.m. Sunday, Hong Kong

On Edge

A anti-Occupy protester with a loudspeaker has climb a bridge in Admiralty and he wants to talk with Occupy’s leaders, he demand the withdrawal of the protesters of the streets, wants his children to go to school tomorrow. Fire units have come to the area and have an inflatable mattress placed underneath the bridge, they are talking with him and tried to desist from his idea to jump. — Adolfo Arranz

5:00 p.m. Saturday, Hong Kong


Many know this protest as a revolution mainly being run by the younger generation; students are skipping school and younger employed people are either taking leaves or coming down to protest after work. But not all of these protesters belong to the youth. Here and there, older men and women either help out with carrying out tasks or sit side by side with their younger comrades. This older man is passing the time by watching TV-shows on his iPad. —Andreas von Buddenbrock

11:00 p.m. Friday, Hong Kong


Even though the public holidays are over and the rain is pouring down, there are still a huge number of people protesting in the central districts of Hong Kong. Everything still feels very organized, as there are people who have taken on the job of managing crowd control, as well as supplies being delivered on a regular basis. Donations to the protesters include everything from food and snacks to first-aid, but there are also things being given out as means to fight the somewhat discouraging weather. Along the highway between Central and Admiralty, a young man is handing out umbrellas to any person passing by who might be in need of shelter from the rain.
—Andreas von Buddenbrock

5:30 p.m. Friday, Hong Kong

Police Presence

Since Sunday, most of the occupied area of Mong Kok has been devoid of police presence. Now it seems that police are starting to take action to see an end to the protest. Abandoned buses that have been standing on the streets for days (attracting people to leave hundreds of messages on them in the form of written notes) are being pulled away from the area while barricades are being taken apart. There seem to be little struggle from the protesters at this point (maybe due to the large number of police officers) as most people are watching the events from behind the newly set up police tape. —Andreas von Buddenbrock

12:00 a.m. Friday, Hong Kong

Tim Wa Avenue

At midnight, crowds are piled up near Tamar Park. As I’m drawing, people are joining and approaching the area around Tim Wa Avenue (top left in the scene), where dozens of police officers block the road to the government buildings. Students have asked for the resignation of the Chief Executive of the government, Leung Chun-ying, before midnight. The latest news here is that he has refused. — Adolfo Arranz

9:30 p.m. Thursday, Hong Kong

Trash-bin barricades

As many probably know by now, the heart of the protest is in the central area of Hong Kong island, outside the stock-market and government buildings. But the demonstration isn’t only happening in one part of town. Last Sunday, as the protest escalated, a huge number of people in Mong Kok (the most densely populated area in the world) started taking to the streets and building barricades with that they could find. Now occupying a large part of one of Hong Kong’s biggest roads, Nathan Road, the protest here seems to be drawing more and more people each day. —Andreas von Buddenbrock

2:00 p.m. Thursday, Hong Kong

Taking the mega-
phone in turn

Under the shadow of Connaught Road overpass, near the government building, many people congregate. In turn, young people pick up the megaphone and speak to the audience with passion. Protesters have given a ultimatum to Hong Kong’s Chief Executive CY Leung to resign before 11.59pm today, otherwise they begin to fill governmental buildings.
Adolfo Arranz

2:00 a.m. Thursday, Hong Kong

Now Hong Kongers are taking sides on Facebook

Though the anti-Occupy Central protesters appeared to take the day off on Wednesday, the war for the hearts and minds of Hong Kongers’ continues on Facebook. The profile picture is the new battlefield: yellow ribbon — denotes your support of the protesters; blue ribbon — the government; and a green ribbon is left for those having trouble picking a side.

At dusk, tucked away behind the iron bars of the Central Government Offices, the only visible police lowered the Chinese flag. A solemn crowd looked on; equally glum officers peered back. No Hong Konger seems to be happy with the situation they have found themselves in. Once the police were done, a couple of the onlookers pulled the yellow ribbons from their lapels and wrapped them around the bars, partially obscuring the iron. — Ryan McMorrow

1:00 a.m. Thursday, Hong Kong

Tear-gas supplies

As I’m sitting with some protesters, a man and a woman come by, addressing the crowd quite loudly. The man is holding up something small, and the woman shows that she’s brought face masks. Someone sitting near me translates that they are giving out protection against possible tear-gas attacks. The man is also saying that they will be giving these out tonight for free, but that people will have to buy their own after that, since their supply is running out. —Andreas von Buddenbrock

12:30 a.m. Thursday, Hong Kong

Now Hong Kongers are taking sides on Facebook

Though the anti-Occupy Central protesters appeared to take the day off on Wednesday, the war for the hearts and minds of Hong Kongers’ continues on Facebook. The profile picture is the new battlefield: yellow ribbon — denotes your support of the protesters; blue ribbon — the government; and a green ribbon is left for those having trouble picking a side.

At dusk, tucked away behind the iron bars of the Central Government Offices, the only visible police lowered the Chinese flag. A solemn crowd looked on; equally glum officers peered back. No Hong Konger seems to be happy with the situation they have found themselves in. Once the police were done, a couple of the onlookers pulled the yellow ribbons from their lapels and wrapped them around the bars, partially obscuring the iron. — Ryan McMorrow

12:00 a.m. Thursday, Hong Kong

Building Walls

Men with microphones stand on the center medians preaching the need for peace and nonviolence and for what seems to be on the top of everyone’s mind — the resignation of Chief Executive C.Y. Leung. Sporadic chants — We want democracy! China leave us alone! — spring from the people.

(Ryan McMorrow)

Democracy walls, reminiscent of the Tiananmen protests in 1989, made of index cards, banners and cartoons, have appeared across any and all suitable surface.

One large black banner, furled from overpass to the street 20 feet below, declares: Democracy. The smoke will not last. The flower of Democracy will bloom.

At one wall, I watched a balding old man in his seventies add a card that read: I don’t want to be a pig.He calmly told me, “Because of Beijing I feel like a pig right now!” — Ryan McMorrow

11:00 p.m. Wednesday, Hong Kong

Homework Help

A man is shouting in a megaphone somewhere. Applauds break out now and again — sometimes for the speakers in the crowd, other times when supplies arrive on trucks or on motorcycles. On the ground are people who have been sitting for a long time, many of them young students. Some of them might see this demonstration as a reason to skip school, but others still take their education seriously. This young woman (as well as many others in the crowd) uses her boyfriend as ‘support’ to finish her homework. —Andreas von Buddenbrock

11:30 a.m. Wednesday, New York

More awesome pics and vids on the ground from Timg today

4:00 p.m. Wednesday, Hong Kong

An Air of Positivity

Walking through the protest, something soon becomes very evident: the mood here is both peaceful and uplifting. Although there are a huge number of people here (especially today, which is probably because of the public holiday) gathering on a small space to address something negative, there is certainly an air of positivity and togetherness. In fact, people here seem more uplifted than the average person you would see on the street on a regular workday. Could it have something to do with everybody being here and helping each other out for the same cause?”—Andreas von Buddenbrock

2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Hong Kong

Supply Stations

Organized supply stations like this one can be found all over the protest area. Everything here is donated from helpful citizens of Hong Kong and it’s all free, but there are still messages telling people not to take advantage of the situation and keep their beloved city a clean place. “Take only what you need,” says a sign at one of the booths. “Please bring your trash with you when you leave,” says the sign on the booth illustrated, which is situated at the heart of the demonstration. — Andreas von Buddenbrock

2:00 p.m. Wednesday, Hong Kong

Collaboration at Occupy Central

In Admiralty station, a few meters from the street but sheltered from the sun, two young men make ​​signposts to help protesters to find public toilets, first aid, and other places necessities. The young man uses a traditional brush and India ink used to draw Chinese characters. Less than a meter away, another young person sleeps to replenish his forces on his bag, shoes and a mask to protect against possible gas. — Adolfo Arranz

12:00 p.m. Wednesday, Hong Kong

Breaking the Calm

This afternoon in Central, protesters were very calm. Voices and chants you hear at other times now are less obvious, but an older man approaching the entrance of the Government Building and the People’s Liberation Army Building has broken his silence and has begun to launch anti-Beijing slogans. The little police presence in the shade of a Bauhinia tree has ignored him. — Adolfo Arranz

1:00 a.m. Wednesday, New York

A drastic change in the core DNA of the Hong Kong government

Hong Kong native Bonnie Leung tries to explain exactly why these protests are so important locally:

Hong Kong children grew up knowing that their home is the one safe place they can express their opinions in – as long as they are peaceful and rational in their approach […] It’s not about police brutality vs. the people. It is the realization that this is their one chance to protect what defines Hong Kong.

Read more.

11:30 p.m. Tuesday, Hong Kong

Soft Gel Fever Strips

Despite having weathered a strong storm, heat persists, and many protesters used soft gel fever strips on their foreheads, necks, arms, or other parts of the body for relief as the heat becomes more difficult to bear. A young man shares a portable fan with her ​​friend. There’s an admirable civility between all who have gathered, sharing any belongings that can provide relief. Tomorrow, Wednesday, is a holiday, so many more people are coming and occupying the streets to spend the night outdoors. The weather forecast is, again, storms with heavy rain, which may help some and discomfort to others, but what’s certain is that the demonstrators will continue to occupy the street: They’re all well-equipped with umbrellas. — Adolfo Arranz

7:52 a.m. Tuesday, San Francisco

See what’s happening right now in Hong Kong with this great tool

Mike Sall, one of Medium’s product scientists, turns us on to a side project he’s been building — which also happens to be a fantastic way to see what’s happening on the ground in Hong Kong. Timg (pronounced timmage, time + image) captures what’s happening on social media at the moment at a specified location — like in the middle of Hong Kong.

11:00 p.m. Tuesday, Hong Kong

Mong Kok

Becky Sun, another HKU journalism student who’s writing on Medium, saw the crowds gathering for the evening’s protests:

At around 5:30pm, men and women, mostly in black in a symbol of anger towards the police’s alleged excessive use of force, continued to pour out of the Admiralty MTR station. Some were seen carrying heavy boxes of supplies, including a group of secondary school girls coming with two boxes of bottled water.
(Becky Sun)

More text and photos here.

7:00 p.m. Tuesday, Hong Kong

School’s Out

Carla Gonzalez, a Masters of Journalism student at HKU, is writing about the protests on Medium, says local schools have shut down for the week and that “bigger protests” are in the works.

“Students used masks, goggles, plastic wraps and umbrellas to protect themselves from tear gas that the police used to disperse them. The crowd continued to return to the streets and allowing trucks from entering the area to provide food and water to the protesters.”

Read more.

5:00 p.m. Tuesday, Hong Kong

Live-illustrating the protests

I made this sketch today in Causeway Bay, one of the most important shopping centers in Hong Kong. The main road’s been closed since yesterday by thousands of young people. In temperatures of over 86°F and high humidity, protesters stoically endure with exemplary discipline. Well organized, volunteers distribute water, ice cream, fruit and snacks, while others scattered water sprays to cool people. I also got help: Some tissues to dry the sweat and water. — Adolfo Arranz

8:30 a.m. Tuesday, New York

Live from the Umbrella Revolution

Hong Kong’s currently home to the biggest pro-democracy protests in China since Tiananmen Square: Hundreds of thousands are turning out, angry at Beijing’s tinkering with local politics. We’re going to experiment by covering things with a mixture of live updates as the situation unfolds, sketches from on the ground by artist Adolfo Arranz, reports from Medium users, and more. Send your tips to us @readmatter or by email.

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