Yau Tong MTR station was the site of more “Lennon Wall”-related friction yesterday evening when a group of young activists was surrounded and shouted down by a crowd of older opponents of Hong Kong’s long-running protest movement.
At around 8pm last night, a few young anti-extradition activists were adding fliers and Post-It notes voicing support for the recent protests to a Lennon Wall at Yau Tong when a group of middle-aged men showed up and began swearing at them and trying to shoo them away, Apple Daily reports.
“Get out of here!” the older group can be heard yelling in videos from the scene. “Why are you messing up our place?”
As the older detractors try to tear down messages on the wall, the younger activists respond by putting more up.
More supporters of both sides began to show up to back their comrades, with the confrontation becoming more heated as the crowd swelled.
Police arrived on the scene at around 10pm and attempted to separate the arguing civilians, raising flags and asking the crowd to calm down, Ming Pao reports — at one point closing off one of the exits in the station, ostensibly to avoid overcrowding.
Pro-democracy officials also showed up to try and quiet the crowd, and to urge police to arrest some of the older men accused of assaulting anti-extradition activists.
Police confirmed to Coconuts HK today that two men, aged 56 and 57, were arrested on suspicion of assault. The 57-year-old was released after the alleged victim declined to press charges, while the 56-year-old was released on bail and is still under investigation.
By around 1am, the confrontation had lost steam and the crowd had all but dispersed.
Lennon Walls, like the one at the center of last night’s altercation, trace their lineage back to 1980s Prague, where a mural memorializing John Lennon after his assassination became a clearinghouse for politically inflected, often anti-war graffiti.
— Jarrod Watt (@Jay_Watt) July 11, 2019
The concept first arrived in Hong Kong during the 2014 Umbrella Movement, and with massive protests rocking the city in recent weeks — sparked by a deeply loathed extradition bill — the walls are back, cropping up all over town, along walkways, on footbridges, and even in the front window of a claw machine arcade.
Despite their peacenik origins, in recent days the walls have become sites of conflict. A phalanx of riot police visited one Lennon Wall in Tai Po on Tuesday night after activists posted the personal details another riot cop there after he was filmed hurling abuse at protesters during a clash in Mong Kok.
Last night, an opponent of the protest movement was arrested after assaulting a young activist who was attempting to prevent him from tearing down fliers at a Lennon Wall at the Kowloon Bay MTR station.
Responding to the clashes, pro-democracy lawmaker Alvin Yeung today questioned why the Lennon Walls had become such flashpoints.
“The Lennon Wall is very peaceful. If we prohibit it, then what do you suggest is a proper way to express our opinion?” he asked. “Why are just a couple pieces of paper chaotic?”
Fellow lawmaker James To suggested the government send representatives to the city’s Lennon Walls to connect with the public and hear their views.
NOTE: This story has been updated to include comments from police.