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Photos Of Hong Kong's Fierce Occupy Central Protests Will Take Your Breath Away

Following growing unrest sparked by tear gas, baton charges and arrests, Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests continued in the embattled region Monday. Although the Chinese government has called for an end to the protests, students, activists and residents once again took to the streets, maneuvering around police blockades and even police officers themselves to advocate for democratic elections.

The protests were triggered by China's recent decision to bar the semi-autonomous region from voting for its leader in the 2017 election — a major blow to Hong Kong residents who were hoping to move their territory into full democracy. Hong Kong residents will now only be able to vote for three pro-Beijing candidates, who were not chosen by the people but by a Chinese government panel.

The Hong Kong protests reportedly began peacefully, with students and activists staging sit-ins in Hong Kong's financial district. According to media reports, the protests grew throughout the territory, causing police to use tear gas to disperse the crowds. However, the demonstrators kept returning, defying orders to retreat.

Hong Kong said on Monday that it would cancel its National Day fireworks, which were to take place on Wednesday, due to the protests. As either side has yet to back down, it looks like the demonstrations are set to rage on.

No Loyalty To Leung

Numerous protesters carried signs bearing defaced images of Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. According to Tapei Times, students gave Leung a 48-hour ultimatum last week to listen to the people and take political action against Beijing. However, Leung is loyal to Beijing, and insisted he need to take the Chinese government’s “wishes” into account.

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"We Want Real Democracy"

Protesters have been repeatedly calling for a “real democracy” as they held sit-ins throughout Hong Kong’s most populated areas.

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Protests Gone Awry

The pro-democracy protests turned violent on Sunday when police officers began spraying tear gas at demonstrators, attempting to disperse the crowds. According to media reports, the police also used pepper spray and charged at protesters with batons raised.

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A Peaceful Shield

Although the police were hoping to use the tear gas and pepper spray to deter demonstrators, Hong Kong residents pressed on. Thousands of protesters returned to the streets with umbrellas to guard themselves from the burning pepper spray.

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Defiant Measures

Despite calls from the Chinese government to halt the protests, thousands of people remained on the streets of Hong Kong on Monday, knocking down blockades set up by police.

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Hands Up, Don't Shoot

Protesters in Hong Kong have begun adopting the chant “hands up, don’t shoot,” in solidarity with Ferguson, Missouri. Meanwhile, as protests resume in Ferguson, many residents there are showing support for democracy in Hong Kong.

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To The Streets

According to CNN, protesters have been successful in blocking major city streets in Hong Kong’s business district.

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The Unrest Continues

Some pro-democracy leaders, including Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former Catholic Bishop of Hong Kong and current leader of Occupy Central, asked protesters to go home as the violence escalated on Sunday, in fear of their safety. “Please go home, don’t sacrifice your lives,” Zen told the demonstrators.

However, others have asked to stay and continue their peaceful sit-ins.

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