The Umbrella Is Hong Kong's Symbol Of Peaceful Resistance, And They're Everywhere — PHOTOS

As the Occupy Central With Love and Peace demonstrations continue to grow, the movement has adopted an unofficial nickname: the Umbrella Revolution. Over the weekend, when police response intensified, the tens of thousands of protestors started repurposing their umbrellas, once used to shield against rain and sun, to protect against anti-riot weapons. As a symbol of the Hong Kong protests, the umbrella actually makes sense.

The umbrella works as a symbol for several reasons. First of all, its intrinsic function — to block and protect — makes it a highly useful tool for protesters trying to dodge tear gas and pepper spray. Many have even turned their umbrellas inside out to make them more effective shields.

Secondly, the umbrella's functional but innocuous nature makes it a powerful symbol of a movement that's defiant, but peaceful. As the Washington Post reports, protesters have turned their umbrellas into demonstration signs by painting messages on them, and local artists have incorporated the umbrella symbol into logos for Occupy Central. Several donation stations have even popped up on the fringes of the protests, where demonstrators can trade in their destroyed umbrella for a fresh one, proving how indispensable the tool has become.

Third, from a strictly visual standpoint, the sheer number of umbrellas on the Hong Kong streets is in and of itself a poignant sight. And then when you remember what the demonstrators are fighting for — the democracy to elect their own chief executive, a right that had been promised to the people of Hong Kong in 1997 — the visuals become especially impactful. Tens of thousands of umbrellas moving in unison for true democracy? That's powerful stuff right there. Take a look for yourself.

Image: Mashable/Twitter