Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong are wearing face masks as they demonstrate on city streets. The semi-autonomous region's chief executive banned face masks in early October.The protests began mostly peaceful, but have since become violent after police said they began using live bullets for self-defense.Here are 12 photos that show how protesters are using masks of cartoon characters and celebrities to spread their message.Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong are donning masks of celebrities and cartoon characters like LeBron James and Winnie the Pooh as a way to spread their message.Hong Kong protesters began demonstrating to criticize a proposed law that would have tried Hong Kong citizens on mainland China, but has since grown into a general pro-democracy movement.The protests have also become increasingly violent. After Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam banned face masks for inciting violence, protesters took to the streets. Police said a 14-year-old had been shot during a demonstration in early October.In the US, many citizens have also demonstrated in solidarity with Hong Kong protesters. Pro-Hong Kong protesters filled an NBA stadium in Brooklyn, New York Friday night.Here are 12 photos that show how Hong Kong protesters are using masks to defy authority:Hong Kong protesters have been demonstrating since June against increased Chinese involvement in the semi-autonomous region.Source: Business InsiderThe British colonized the area for 150 years. Since handing back the territory to China in 1997, the two governments agreed to allow Hong Kong to retain its own legal systems until 2047.Source: Business InsiderYet Beijing has tried to undermine Hong Kong's sovereignty, resulting in various protests over the last decade, leading to the massive protests in Hong Kong.Source: Business InsiderWhile the protests started out as mostly nonviolent, they have recently become more dangerous. In early October, police said they used live rounds for the first time and shot an activist. Separately, a protester threw acid on an officer.Source: Business InsiderHong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam banned face masks shortly after in effort to de-escalate the conflict. Lam said masks have been used to promote "radical behavior" among protesters.Source: DWAnyone breaching the law could face one year in prison and 25,000 Hong Kong dollars (or $3,200 in the US).Source: DWProtesters have used characters like Winnie the Pooh and Pepe the Frog to drum up more media attention to the protest, the Associated Press reported.Source: Hong Kong Free PressMasked protesters also formed a human chain around parts of the city Friday night.Source: APSome protesters have worn masks of NBA star LeBron James. James escalated the conflict in October after he called a pro-Hong Kong tweet by an NBA executive "misinformed."Source: Business InsiderAfter Houston Rockets owner Daryl Morey tweeted his support for Hong Kong protesters, several Chinese businesses suspended operations with the basketball league. James said Morey did not consider the "financial" ramifications of his words.Source: Business InsiderOthers donned masks depicting Chinese President Xi Jinping in effort to mock the communist leader.Source: Hong Kong Free PressProtesters on Friday night chanted, "I have every right to wear a mask," and sang a protest anthem.Source: The Guardian Click here to read full news..