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Jerome Taylor @JeromeTaylor
, 26 tweets, 12 min read Read on Twitter
4 years ago today -- at this time -- the streets of central Hong Kong looked like this.

I took this about an hour after police fired tear gas at pro-democracy students demonstrating outside the city's legislature.

That move prompted thousands of HKers to come out in support
I had been covering the protests that day & went to go charge camera batteries when the phone started buzzing with messages about the tear gas. I raced back to Admiralty subway station below the protest site where students had set up makeshift first aid stations
Exiting the station the acrid smell of tear gas was unmistakable. The police had donned gas masks while protesters did what they could.
The police attempts to disperse the crowds had failed. Incensed by the use of tear gas, huge crowds of Hong Kongers joined the protesters, taking over the main road outside the legislature and refused to budge. The so-called #UmbrellaMovement had well and truly begun
The students had in fact been protesting for a few weeks before that night. They were angry that Beijing had announced Hong Kongers could finally vote for their city leader, but only from a list of candidates vetted by China.
A small group of largely student demonstrators occupied the streets around the city's legislature to protest Beijing's plans. As the days went by, tensions increased. Teenagers were openly challenging the Chinese Communist Party. City officials were under pressure to act
The night before the tear-gas incident, a small group of students climbed a fence and occupied a small garden within the legislature. Police hauled them away after a long stand-off
Carting students away poured fuel on the fire. The following morning the protests swelled far beyond the small student demo around the park, with large crowds taking over the one of Hong Kong island's biggest roads opposite the legislature. Scuffles broke out with police
More police kept arriving until eventually the tear-gas was deployed that evening which, as explained above, only created more sympathy for the students among ordinary Hong Kongers
Quickly protesters took over two more key intersection in the city. Causeway Bay, on Hong Kong island
And Mongkok, across the harbour in Kowloon. That spread police resources more thinly, they now had there protest camps in the city to deal with. But it also began to anger some Hong Kongers opposed to the disruption
Pro-Beijing counter protests sprung up. This was taken in Causeway Bay
But there was little police could do as the protest camps enlarged, with barricades set up to stop any surprise attempt by the authorities to remove demonstrators. A stalemate set in
Those early days of #UmbrellaMovement were surreal. Streets usually packed with traffic were eerily empty
Initially there was a real sense of optimism that something might change, that Beijing might listen to those in Hong Kong who want a greater say in how their city is run, who want to retain freedoms unknown on China's mainland
The protests camps became little communities. Kids famously did homework in the camps at night by torchlight, people donated supplies, tents etc as people set in for the long haul
Each night, the crowds would swell as people joined after work to hear speeches, sing songs and chant slogans
But there were moments where things got ugly. Mongkok, where the triads have influence, became a flashpoint as people opposed to the demonstrations began scuffling with the democracy protesters.
Police had to keep the sides apart. At time Mongkok felt really quite tense
During a few tense evenings in Mongkok there were street scuffles between cops and pro-democracy protesters who felt the authorities had not done enough to protect them from the attacks by Beijing-loyalists
Fortunately, those flashpoint incidents died down. Hong Kong authorities -- no doubt with Beijing's backing -- switched tactics and decided to wait the protests out.
The occupation lasted 79 days. But the new tactics from the authorities worked. Momentum and enthusiasm slowed, many in the city grew increasingly frustrated by the traffic disruption, especially in Mongkok and Causeway Bay.
Eventually the camps dismantled and dispersed with no concession won from Beijing
Hong Kong went back to being Hong Kong
In the four years since, the #UmbrellaMovement has waned. Protest leaders have been arrested, some spending time in jail. Authorities have banned a political party promoting independence, and stopped some pro-democracy legislators from taking their seats.
The city's democracy movement is still alive -- these pics were taken at this year's annual June 4 protests marking #Tiananmen.

But where it goes from here, your guess is as good as mine.

Here endeth the thread.

(All 📸 taken by me)
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