Dozens of Hong Kong police late last night grabbed riot shields and strapped on knee and elbow pads to execute a daring midnight raid on a handful of sheets of paper taped to a wall inside a Tai Po pedestrian tunnel.
The pieces of paper in question bore the personal details of a police officer and had been posted to one the many so-called “Lennon Walls” that have sprung up around town to spread messages of support to the city’s anti-government protesters, Stand News reports. The papers included the officer’s name, his photo, the building in which he lives, and even where he went to school.
At around midnight, police descended on the tunnel near Tai Po MTR, tearing down the posts pertaining to the officer, surnamed Chung, who had been filmed two nights before swearing at and threatening protesters during a street clearance operation in Mong Kok.
In video from the late-night clashes, which took place after a peaceful anti-extradition march earlier in the day, Chung can be heard screaming “remember me motherfucker!” and “fight me one on one!” (Chung shows up around 0:30 in the video below)
The flap over Chung’s details comes after eight people were arrested for allegedly “doxxing” some 800 cops — obtaining and distributing their personal details online — and amid a broader sense of widespread disapproval of the police force, who have been criticized for their heavy-handed responses to demonstrations.
Tai Po district councillor Joshua Au said the police had explained their operation beforehand, and acknowledged that they had only torn down the posters bearing the officer’s personal information, leaving up the hundreds, if not thousands, of other messages posted on the wall, Apple Daily reports. Nonetheless, he questioned whether it was “too much” to send a phalanx of officers in riot gear to take down a few posters.
Netizens were quick to ridicule the operation, with some circulating a doctored image of the movie poster for the new Lion King (pronounced like “Si Ji Wong” in Cantonese) showing a gaggle of cops on top of Pride Rock with the Cantonese title “Tearing Paper King” (or “Si Zi Wong” in Canto).
Netizens are mocking the excessive number of Police officers sent to deal with the issue. They added a caption "Finding Memo" to a photo, and replaced "獅子王 (The Lion King)" with a homophone "撕紙王 (King of paper tearing)" on a movie poster. pic.twitter.com/2Js9sR32GZ
— antiELAB (@anti_elab) July 9, 2019
“Lennon Walls,” like the one where the officer’s details were posted, 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.
The concept first cropped up in Hong Kong during the 2014 Umbrella Movement, and featured thousands upon thousands of Post-It notes expressing support for the protesters.
With a new set of protests over a deeply loathed extradition bill currently roiling Hong Kong, the walls are back, this time cropping up all over town, along walkways, on footbridges, and even in the front window of a claw machine arcade.
Messages spotted during a recent perusal of some Lennon Walls in Kowloon today included such rousing missives as “We love Hong Kong,” “Carrie Lam step down,” and “We will protect our home,” intended to lift extradition bill opponents’ spirits.