on September 27, 2014 in Hong Kong. Thousands of people kicked off Occupy Central by taking over Connaught Road, one of the major highway in Hong Kong, in protest against Beijing's conservative framework for political reform.
Credit: Anthony Kwan

Instagram is down in China, and if you've been following the news, you already know why.

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Hong Kong in an outpouring of frustration over politics and representation. Under Hong Kong's present electoral system, citizens don't elect their own leaders. Instead, they're appointed by a Beijing-friendly electoral committee. That will change — sort of, but not really — in 2017, when Hong Kong citizens will get to choose from among two or three candidates pre-selected by a Beijing nominating committee.

Protesters call the new electoral system "fake democracy." Sounds about right.

As we've come to expect, social media has played a large part in getting the word out. On Twitter and Instagram, activists and sympathizers use a variety of hashtags to organize information and speak to the wider world. If you want to follow along, check out #OccupyCenter, #hongkong, #hk and #UmbrellaRevolution. The last one refers to protesters' creative use of umbrellas to defend against tear gas. Ten years from now, it might be the name we remember this demonstration by.

Beijing's not having any of it. Following a police crackdown in Hong Kong on Sunday, Chinese authorities struck a major blow against demonstrators' ability to transmit news and images of the protest via social networks. They blocked Instagram on the Chinese mainland.

What's Beijing so afraid of?

Here are 21 photos from Instagram users on the ground at the protests. China doesn't want you to see them. And if you live in China, you can't.


1) This large gathering of people



2) This same large gathering of people as recorded by a different person



3) This same large gathering of people all recording things with their smartphones



4) Like these police officers



5) This dog



6) This subway station



7) This reference to Les Miserables



8) These multilingual sign-makers



9) This classic take on protest-sign-making



10) This crowd, again. Lots of people. Here they are



11) These faces in the crowd



12) This tear gas being fired on peaceful protesters



13) This gassed protester and these helpful people



14) These friends who are prepared for tear gas



15) This decal



16) This inspirational veteran of the cause



17) This sign featuring the giant face of Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong's chief executive



18) These umbrellas



19) These umbrellas



20) These umbrellas + puppy and kitten



21) This glorious sunset


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