After years in Cairo, photographer Amanda Mustard captures the unusual culture of Hong Kong’s ‘Polite Protests’ – from umbrellas and water to haircuts and card games.
Makeshift showers, free food and water, cold towels, goggles, and umbrellas, all without a single dollar exchanged. These are only a few of the things in abundance amongst Hong Kong’s Occupy Central movement, earning the ‘Umbrella Revolution’ demonstrators the title of ‘Politest Protestors’.
It was only one week after I moved out of Cairo that I found myself in the middle of Admiralty, Hong Kong on assignment with Mashable. After three years of wearing men’s clothing and a flak jacket under my shirt to combat the sexual violence epidemic towards women that peaks during protests, words couldn’t describe how euphoric it was to be witnessing what was happening in Hong Kong (and while wearing shorts). Not just on a historical level, but that protestors were scrubbing graffiti off the streets left by some students, establishing cleaning crews, even offering free haircuts and massages of Connaught Street.
While it did seem that Western media got quite hung up on this quality of the movement, I can’t deny how greatly it impacted how I covered the protests. Whether or not the Umbrella Revolution amounts to anything in the long-term, I was incredibly moved by sense of unity and generosity of the demonstrators and their devotion to keeping the dynamic with police peaceful, considering the lack of restraint exercised by both sides in most other demonstrations, especially in Cairo. I’m not sure what, if anything can be learned about the nature of this protest, but it is indeed worth some consideration.