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Ukrainian nationalists demonstrate on the streets in Eastern UkraineKieran Kesner

The top news stories of 2014

From the trans rights revolution to the Gaza-Israel conflict, we zero in on the biggest developments of the year

Way back when, we concluded that 2013 was the year when things couldn't possibly get any weirder or more out there. 2014, on the other hand, is pretty much summed up by underground stories becoming huge, breakout news. Ongoing conflicts and issues that had been humming beneath the surface for years – like the struggle against police racism or urban gentrification – suddenly exploded into mainstream consciousness. In non-chronological order, here's what made 2014 in news.

FERGUSON, ERIC GARNER AND THE FIGHT AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY

The quest to find justice for slain Ferguson teenager Michael Brown and Staten Island dad Eric Garner saw protests spread like wildfire all across America. In New York, demonstrators shut down Manhattan Bridge, while protests turned violent in Berkeley. London joined in, with hundreds shutting down Westfield shopping centre in a show of solidarity with the US. 

LONDON NIGHTLIFE LOSES OUT TO GENTRIFICATION

The beloved LGBT dive pub the Joiners Arms is being demolished for luxury flats, gig hotspot Madame Jojo's was shut down by the council, and most frighteningly of all, the George Tavern – legendary drinking spot to Amy Winehouse and Kate Moss – had to face down developers with axes. With nightlife on the decline and house prices skyrocketing, was it any wonder that thousands of young Londoners were choosing to flee the capital this year?

THE ISRAEL-GAZA CONFLICT WENT INTO OVERDRIVE

Over the summer, Israel and Gaza were locked in a 50-day conflict that claimed the lives of more than 2,100 people – many of them Gazan civilians. Artists and filmmakers like Brian Eno and Pedro Almodóvar penned heartfelt letters condemning Israeli military action, while thousands of people marched in London to demand justice for Palestine. But the most heartbreaking detail of them all? The fact that the rocket fire in Gaza had gotten so bad that it was now visible from space.

AMERICA GOT REALLY, REALLY HIGH

Voters in Washington DC, Oregon and Alaska joined their super-stoned cousins in Colorado in legalising recreational marijuana. Meanwhile, Coloradans were busy being blazed at classical music concerts and Californians were enjoying the slippery delights of cannabis-infused lube. With delights like that, no wonder one US news reporter quit her job on-air and outed herself as a pro-legalisation activist and the proud owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club. All of which explains why, as Dazed writers Pinar & Viola put it, weed's having a "pop culture moment".

THE TRANS RIGHTS REVOLUTION ROLLS ON

The global movement for trans rights steamrolled into a revolution. Orange Is the New Black star and activist Laverne Cox talked to us about her supernova year, Bruce Weber shot a groundbreaking all-trans catalogue for Barneys, Dazed 100 star Andreja Pejić came out and promptly became the most visible trans model in the business. Oh, and Facebook also introduced more than 70 gender options for LGBTQ people of all stripes.

HONG KONG'S UMBRELLA REVOLUTION KICKED OFF

The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong took over the city this year, with 80,000 people demonstrating on China's National Day alone. They were up against an immovable force, though: a mainland government that not only allegedly hacked their phones but was also rumoured to hire gangs to whip up violence at the demos. Hong Kong might still be waiting to see what happens now the camps have been cleared and the dust settled – but everybody knows that nothing will be the same again. 

THE FAPPENING BROUGHT OUT THE WORST IN EVERYONE

If you want to know what a clusterfuck looks like, look no further. Back in August, hackers leaked private images and video of over a hundred female celebrities. Even as other high-profile women like Lena Dunham rallied around the victims, others tried to cash in. One artist announced plans to exhibit the nude images (although he later backed down), and Reddit took an extraordinarily long time to ban the subreddit that swapped the images to drool over. But Jennifer Lawrence had the last word on the whole ordeal, saying: "It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime." We hear ya.

SCOTLAND VOTED TO STAY IN THE UNION

While a huge number of creatives told us they were in favour of independence, Scottish voters decided that the country was better together – 55.3 per cent opted to preserve the 307-year-old union with England. As Dazed hit the ground to find out what the situation was like in post-indyref Glasgow, musicians like Rustie summed up the mood of many young Scots: "Scotland u fukin shitebags."

THE DARKNET DRUGS MARKETPLACE TOOK A HIT

Silk Road 2.0 launched soon after the original darknet bazaar shut, but this year it was taken down in a massive police sting and its creator admitted to everything (dumb move, bro). But that doesn't mean the online drugs trade is suffering – there are still plenty of marketplaces up and running. There's even a search engine that you can use specifically to hunt down black market goods.

UKRAINE'S MAIDAN PROTESTS SPIRAL INTO VIOLENCE (AND THEN SOME)

The peaceful pro-Europe Euromaidan protests were plunged into conflict and bloodshed in February. Protesters finally toppled then-president Viktor Yanukovych this year, only to see Vladimir Putin send troops into the Crimea and annex the territory. Ukrainians fought back with inventiveness and humour, crowdsourcing border patrol drones and naming a star "Putin is a dickhead". But as photographer Kieran Kesner told us, the battle is far from over.