Scuffles break out at Hong Kong housing estate as crowd tears down nearby Lennon Wall

A group of more than 40 people arrive at a housing estate in Tsuen Wan and begin clearing up a Lennon Wall in the area. Screenshots via Facebook/RTHK.
A group of more than 40 people arrive at a housing estate in Tsuen Wan and begin clearing up a Lennon Wall in the area. Screenshots via Facebook/RTHK.

Hong Kong police had to be called in to break up a fight outside a housing estate in Tsuen Wan after dozens of people turned up to tear down a Lennon Wall in the area.

HK01 reports that a group of 40 to 50 people arrived at the the Lei Muk Shue estate at around midnight and began pulling down flyers from the walls. The outlet reports that the group were also carrying large shovels, paint scrapers, wooden clubs, high-pressure water guns, brooms, extendable batons, spray paint, and other items.

One video published by Hong Kong Baptist University’s student website shows the group were also wearing face masks, and at one point surrounded the person filming, shouting “call the police, then.”

One eyewitness, surnamed Chan, told HK01 that when he tried to prevent the group from clearing the Lennon Wall, he was threatened and attacked with a paint scraper. He sustained bruises to his back, hands, and chest in the altercation, but declined to be sent to the hospital

Another eyewitness, surnamed Wong, told RTHK that he and others approached the group and asked them why they were cleaning the wall, and that when someone with him tried to film the encounter, a member of the masked group tried to grab his phone. As the crowd got increasingly agitated, Wong and the others left and called the police.

A third person at the scene, surnamed Lee, told RTHK: “We kept asking the officers, ‘Sir, why don’t you check their ID cards?’ and everything, but the police didn’t do anything. They just stood there separating the two groups and even let [the masked group] get into taxis and leave the scene.

The outlet reports that after clearing the wall, most of the group got into a coach and left the scene, while others were seen getting into cars or taxis.

“Lennon Walls” are public spaces covered in Post-It notes and flyers bearing messages of support for Hong Kong’s anti-government protesters. The walls 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 since the start of the current protest movement, the displays have appeared in many public places, such as pedestrian subways and tunnels.

The Lennon Walls have repeatedly been at the center of scuffles between pro-democracy and pro-Beijing supporters, with more serious incidents including the stabbing of a student inside Tai Po’s Lennon Tunnel in October, and a man wounding three people with a knife at a Lennon Wall in Tseung Kwan O in August.

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