The city’s many “Lennon Walls” have once again become focal points for conflict between supporters of Hong Kong’s ongoing protest movement and its less-visible opponents, with more reports coming in of confrontations breaking out at the colorful collections of pro-democracy Post-Its yesterday.
A video from Tai Po Market MTR station — home to the now-famous “Lennon Tunnel” — shows two men, one in red and one in white, pulling down a banner and sheets of protective plastic covering the reams of Post-It notes at around 8pm.
Another man in a red shirt, later identified as a 65-year-old surnamed Choi, can be seen trying to intervene. Unsurprisingly, things getting heated — at one point someone can be heard saying “go look at your mum’s c**t” (classy) — and it’s not long before fists are flying.
Choi, who was volunteering to look after the wall, begins giving the man in white a piece of his mind when the man shoves him. Choi takes a swing, the man in white swings back, and the man in red jumps in for a brief melee that’s quickly broken up by another man in green.
Another video posted online of the same incident shows dozens of people surrounding the two unidentified men and yelling at them to leave as they continue to tear down the Post-It notes adorning the wall.
As the pair leave, the man in white flips the crowd the bird — which some in the crowd duly flip back — and the assembled bystanders send the two off with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday To You, a tactic used during the Umbrella Movement to drown out and confuse pro-government protesters.
According to on.cc, police arrived at the scene shortly afterwards but the two men had already left. No arrests were made and Choi was sent to hospital with injuries to his arm. A community officer for the neighborhood of Wan Tau Tong later posted on Facebook that Choi had fractured his arm and needed surgery.
Tai Po’s Lennon Tunnel has been a flashpoint in recent days, not just because of the sheer number of pro-democracy Post-Its on display, but also because the area has long been seen as a pro-establishment stronghold.
Meanwhile, in Cheung Sha Wan, a group of people intervened yesterday to stop another man in a blue shirt from tearing down messages posted on a Lennon Wall at the MTR station there. In one video of the altercation, the man — who appears to be downright shitfaced — has a slow-motion wrestling match with a handful of people who are preventing him from reaching the Lennon Wall.
He can later be seen ripping down posters elsewhere with flailing, woozy abandon.
In a separate video from the scene, posted by on.cc, a man in a pink shirt approaches the man in blue and abruptly sucker punches him in the face. Mr. Blue, who was frankly having trouble standing to begin with, drops to the ground in a flurry of Post-Its, gets up, and is promptly punched again.
As Mr. Blue lolls around on the ground, bystanders step in to keep the other man back, but before long Mr. Blue is back on his feet — albeit shakily — and flailing at the man in pink.
Bystanders manage to keep the two apart, and the man in pink appears to leave the scene, but when Mr. Blue gets rowdy with a different bystander, yet another man in a pink shirt decks him again.
Police confirmed to HK01 that they received a report about the incident just after 11:45pm last night, and that they arrested a the man in blue, aged 50, on suspicion of causing criminal damage because a man’s phone was broken during the fracas.
Meanwhile, in Aberdeen, a Lennon Wall was the scene of an attempted arson at around 10pm last night. According to HK01, a 46-year-old man was trying to set fire to the Post-It notes being displayed there, but was stopped by bystanders before much damaged could be done. Police and firemen arrived later and arrested the man on suspicion of arson.
Yesterday’s altercations come after similar incidents at Lennon Walls at the Kowloon Bay and Yau Tong MTR stations. RTHK reports that the suspect in the Kowloon Bay incident, in which a man defending the Lennon Wall was punched repeatedly in the face while refusing to fight back, was charged with two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and is due to appear at Kwun Tong Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 19.
The Lennon Wall concept, which has its origins in 1980s Prague, first arrived in Hong Kong during the 2014 Umbrella Movement. Now, with massive protests sparked by a deeply loathed extradition bill again rocking the city, the walls are back, cropping up all over town, along walkways, on footbridges, and even in the front window of a claw machine arcade.
As the number of Post-It notes bearing pro-democracy messages have grown, so too has their creativity. The Tai Po Lennon Tunnel features a hopscotch grid with pro-government politicians’ faces on it, as well as a slipper attached to the wall by a string, which can be use to thwack pro-Beijing politicians’ photos on the wall beside it.