Tiananmen Slideshows — Part One: Protests

From mid-April until the end of May 1989, Muriel Southerland went out each day to photograph the student protests at Tiananmen Square. The protests grew into a nationwide pro-democracy movement, with more than a million Beijing citizens surging into the streets at one point to support the students.

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April 27 – On the Avenue of Eternal Peace, students march toward Tiananmen Square as people returning from work look on.


April 27 –Demonstrators hold signs bearing Deng Xiaoping’s quotations and banners that read, “Speaking for the People Even at the Cost of our Lives.”


April 27 – As the protests grow in size, the students hold hands to keep the demonstrations “pure” and to remind everyone that they were the ones who began the protests. The banner behind them reads, “Against Government Officials’ Wrongdoing and Against Violence.”


May 7 – Thousands take to the streets and crowd the Avenue of Eternal Peace.


May 7 – Transportation workers join the protests and use their buses for the demonstration.


May 7 – Construction workers stop their work to observe the protests as a policeman looks on.


May 17 – Thousands of protesters crowd Tiananmen Square, forcing Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev, who visited the capital on the 15th, to enter the Great Hall of the People from the back entrance.


May 17 – Protesters gather around the Monument to the People’s Heroes on Tiananmen Square.


May 17 – Young children wearing the red scarf of the Young Pioneers help direct traffic atop a pedestal on the streets of Beijing. Many Beijing citizens take it upon themselves to help maintain the peace and keep everyday businesses running.


May 17 – A small car, presumably a police car, drives down the street in support of the protesters. The words on the side read, “The People’s Police Love the People.” It is rumored that the crime rate goes down as robbers and looters join the ranks of the protesters.


May 19 – A protest bus circles the Square and the Avenue of Eternal Peace. Protesters write “Long Live the People, Long Live Freedom” on the side of the bus and fix a loudspeaker on top to shout slogans.


May 26 – People begin living and sleeping in the pedestrian underpass leading to Tiananmen Square. The Square becomes a small city.


May 26 – For the first time, people can write and speak freely. They post political essays in Tiananmen Square. These men are reading an essay titled “The Time has Come, People of China.”


May 28 – A woman reads some of the many political essays posted around Tiananmen Square.


May 30 – The Square becomes a tent city as thousands of people decide to camp there.


May 30 – The Goddess of Democracy is placed opposite the gate to the Forbidden City so that it looks toward the portrait of Mao. The statue stands in Tiananmen Square from May 29 until June 4 when the army topples it while clearing the Square.


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