'Umbrella Revolution' Paralyzes Parts of Hong Kong

But riot police have largely been called off
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2014 5:15 AM CDT
Updated Sep 29, 2014 7:50 AM CDT
A police car is blocked by thousands of protesters in Hong Kong last night.   (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
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(Newser) – Defiant pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong have expanded their protests after police used tear gas and other heavy-handed tactics to try to clear them from the streets yesterday. "Occupy Central" protesters—many of whom camped out on the city's main roads overnight—have occupied key districts of the city, and organizers have called for the protest to continue until the government addresses the movement's demands, reports the South China Morning Post. More:

  • Riot police were withdrawn around lunchtime today after the government said protests had "mostly calmed down," but some schools and banks were closed for the day and public transport was paralyzed in some areas, reports the BBC.

  • The protesters are enraged by Beijing's decision to rule out open elections for the semiautonomous territory's chief executive in 2017—but the mainland government appears unwilling to budge. "Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong," a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman told reporters today.
  • But the protesters are also standing firm. "Yes, it's going to get violent again because the Hong Kong government isn't going to stand for us occupying this area," an 18-year-old student protester tells Reuters. "We are fighting for our core values of democracy and freedom, and that is not something violence can scare us away from."
  • The "Umbrella Revolution" name for the protests is quickly gaining traction, reports NBC. Demonstrators have been using umbrellas to protect themselves against tear gas, and new umbrellas were distributed to protesters today, along with masks and fresh water.
  • The protests are attracting a growing amount of international support, with more than 180,000 signatures on a White House petition calling for President Obama to support free elections in Hong Kong, reports the Wall Street Journal. "Given Beijing's records, we fear a second Tiananmen Massacre will happen in Hong Kong," the letter says, urging the US to make it clear to Beijing that the use of force to crush peaceful protests will be "strongly opposed and severely punished."

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