How Hong Kong went from the Umbrella Movement to a “revolution of our times”

After hours of smashing the glass panels of Hong Kong’s legislature on July 1, protesters finally breached the building’s main entrance. Someone sounded an airhorn. A group of protesters climbed in. The Legislative Council had been stormed.

Adrian, who’s in his early 20s and had recently graduated from college with a degree in philosophy, stood at the shattered entrance and examined the damage. Without hesitation, he walked in, spending about 20 minutes inside before exiting again. “You just know you have to do it,” he said.  

Storming the legislature marked a decisive break from the tactics of the Umbrella Movement of 2014, which earned a reputation for being one of the politest protest movements ever as protesters did homework and collected recyclables at occupation sites. Yet while the movement—which began five years ago today—deepened the political awakening of the city’s youngest, it ultimately failed to win democratic elections for the city’s leader by the time it was forced to disperse 79 days later. The current chief executive, Carrie Lam, was elected with 777 votes from a small election committee three years later.

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