Mr. Depp should ... have paid at least a little attention to what was going on.
Beijing's advance rejection of fully democratic elections for the chief executive in 2017 led tens of thousands of Hong Kong students and other pro-democracy activists to take to the streets in the 2014 Umbrella Revolution. For 79 days the activists peacefully occupied major thoroughfares, clearing their trash each day and using umbrellas to fend off tear gas and rain.
Ultimately, the activists lost. China stood firm, the protesters dispersed, and Beijing further curbed Hong Kong freedoms.
"After the Umbrella Revolution, people were discouraged. They felt helpless," recalled Nathan Law, a slim, bespectacled 23-year-old. Then head of the Hong Kong student union, he was a key protest organizer. "Support for the democratic movement had grown, but people were tired of expressing that by protesting," he said.
Distraught, divided among themselves, the organizers could have given up. There was much finger-pointing between more radical elements and traditional democracy activists. But finally, says Law, the various factions took the long view - they would try to change the system from within.
"A core group of people became very active in electoral politics," Law told me. They organized new pro-democracy parties (including Demosisto, which Law chairs) in order to run for seats for Hong Kong's Legislative Council last September. "This was David vs. Goliath without the slingshot," says Margaret Ng, a Hong Kong lawyer and longtime democracy activist.
The young people helped organize the largest voter turnout since 1997, which handed pro-democracy forces 55 percent of the popular vote. Beijing-imposed rules prevented them from gaining a majority of the 70 seats, but the 29 they won are sufficient to block government changes to parliamentary rules or Hong Kong's constitution.
Better pay attention and get personally engaged in the effort. We can't have self-government if we don't get involved ourselves.