Over 100 days of protests have left Hong Kong with a trashed subway system, buildings destroyed by graffiti, torn up sidewalks, fires set ablaze in busy districts, and a suffering economy. Though on the streets of the region, there remains a sense of reason and purpose among the protesters. A mentality of “If I go down, you’re going down with me” is prevalent in the front line protesters’ agenda.

Police secure an alley outside of the Yoho Mall in the Yuen Long district after arresting a protester.


An estimated 1.7 million people gather at Victoria Park on August 18th, 2019.


“Shield of Freedom” – On August 24th, protesters congregate at the Kowloon Bay police station following a police-approved protest. A skirmish between police and protesters ensues and many protesters are beaten and arrested by police.


“Chinazi” is a term coined by protesters to relate the Chinese government and Hong Kong Police the fascist Nazi group.


A protester throws tear gas back to the police after they launch multiple rounds towards protesters at Kowloon Bay on August 18th.

Chinese troops deployed in Hong Kong

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Protesters confront police outside of the Legislative Council building on August 31st. This has been a common location for protester and police clashes since the beginning of the protests.


An umbrella left on the ground from a fleeing protester rests atop a can of leaking tear gas. Umbrellas were the symbol of the Umbrella Movement (a student protest in Hong Kong in 2014), and the symbol has carried over as a representation of unity for protesters today.


Protesters organize in small groups to protect themselves from rubber bullets, tear gas and power hoses outside the Legislative Council Building on August 31st.


On September 1st, after creating roadblocks and human shields to keep travelers from entering Hong Kong International Airport, protesters begin to light a fire to the road barricades as an act of defiance towards the Chinese government.


Be Water” – A quote from Bruce Lee, has become a mantra for the protesters in Hong Kong. It is a symbol to encourage protesters to adopt characteristics of efficiency, agility, flexibility, adaptability and the awareness to retreat and not get arrested while protesting in the streets.


Editor’s note: This article was written by Stanton Sharpe, a documentary photographer and writer based in Southeast & East Asia. Stanton works primarily on stories in Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Vietnam with a focus on conflict journalism and stories of displaced people. He is currently based in Hong Kong where he is covering the protests and Hong Kong politics. You can watch live video coverage of the protests on his Instagram account.

All photos courtesy of Stanton Sharpe.