In the chaos of intense pro-democracy demonstrations Sunday in Hong Kong, a young woman was captured in a viral video, her face badly bloodied.

A projectile had hit her right eye, fueling speculation about who fired it and what the escalating violence meant for the people of Hong Kong, who for two months have been protesting what they see as the Chinese government’s excessive influence over their semiautonomous territory.

The demonstrators alleged the projectile, perhaps a beanbag, was fired by police. Authorities said at a news conference that there was no proof to back up that claim.

From the tension, a new rallying symbol was born.


Protesters cover their eyes during a demonstration on Aug. 12 at the Hong Kong International Airport. (Kin Cheung/AP)

People held signs that read "black police, return eye" during a protest Aug. 12 at the Hong Kong International Airport. (Vincent Thian/AP)

Protesters at the arrival hall of the Hong Kong International Airport. (Vincent Thian/AP)

Protesters at the Hong Kong International Airport. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

“Eye for an eye,” some protesters shouted as they continued their sit-in at the Hong Kong International Airport this week, forcing the cancellation of all flights Monday and Tuesday.

Demonstrators also sprayed-painted “eye for an eye” throughout the airport in Chinese and in English and covered their faces with mock eye patches made of gauze. Some colored them red, to signify blood.


A protester wears a mock eye patch as demonstrators occupy Hong Kong International Airport on Aug. 13. (Laurel Chor/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

A protester at Hong Kong International Airport on Aug. 12. (Kin Cheung/AP)

A protester at Hong Kong International Airport on Aug. 12. (Kin Cheung/AP)

A protester at Hong Kong International Airport. (Kin Cheung/AP)

A protester at Hong Kong International Airport. (Kin Cheung/AP)

A protester at Hong Kong International Airport. (Kin Cheung/AP)

A protester at Hong Kong International Airport. (Kin Cheung/AP)

A protester at Hong Kong International Airport on Aug. 12. (Kin Cheung/AP)

A protester at Hong Kong International Airport. (Kin Cheung/AP)

Kelvin Liu, a 19-year-old student at the protest, told Agence France-Presse demonstrators had chosen the airport because they believed police would not show excess force in front of international visitors.

The belief was that “police wouldn’t act unreasonably,” Liu said, “because if people from other countries see how police can come in and hit people, that would be serious.”

For two months, the pro-democracy demonstrators have been calling for change in Hong Kong, which has existed as a semiautonomous part of China since the British handed it over in 1997.

The protests began in June, initially over a bill that would allow Hong Kongers to be extradited to China, which raised fears that the freedoms enjoyed by the residents of the territory would be further diluted. The protests have since expanded to include demands related to Hong Kong’s election process, calls for investigations into police use of force during the demonstrations and a push for all charges to be dropped against the protesters.

But China has issued ominous warnings to the demonstrators and called the protests “terrorism.”

Apart from the incident involving the woman with the bloodied face, other violence captured on video and in photos this week included video footage of a police officer using his knee to push a man’s face into a pool of his own blood.

“Sorry,” the pinned protester can be heard saying. “Don’t do this, I beg you.”


A protester hides her right eye during an occupation of Hong Kong International Airport on Aug. 12. (Jerome Favre/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Protesters take part in a sit-in protest at the Hong Kong International Airport. (Vincent Thian/AP)

A man holds a cellphone showing a picture of a bleeding eye during a protest at the Hong Kong International Airport on Aug. 13. (Philip Fong/AFP/Getty Images)

On Monday, authorities said the video of the incident involving the woman would have to be verified and that they could not confirm “the reasoning behind this lady’s injury.”

The unidentified woman was treated by medics and taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where she underwent surgery, reported the Straits Times. The South China Morning Post quoted a doctor as saying her injury was “really serious.”

Eventually, the eye-patch protests moved to the hospital, too.


A nurse with her eye covered takes part in a protest at the Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong on Aug. 13. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images)

Medical staff at a hospital in Hong Kong take part in a protest over police brutality toward pro-democracy demonstrators on Aug. 13. (Kin Cheung/AP)

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