An argument over a “Lennon Wall” message board outside the Yau Tong MTR station escalated on Wednesday night, with around 200 people drawn to the scene and police making two arrests.
Separately, a 46-year-old man was arrested for assaulting two bystanders after he tried to deface a Lennon Wall in Kowloon Bay.
Dozens of community message boards have appeared across Hong Kong this week, with colourful notes expressing messages of support for anti-government protesters. The boards also became the target of vandals, who were seen ripping up the messages on the walls and getting into arguments.
Democrats on Thursday condemned both incidents as “attacks,” and called on the police to strictly and impartially enforce the law.
“The ‘Lennon Walls’ are a form of peaceful expression, and should be tolerated by any civilised society,” 24 pro-democracy lawmakers said in a joint statement.
“This type of cultural-revolution-style conflict, which pits the people against themselves, cannot be allowed to spread. It has the goal of further dividing society, and started back in the Umbrella Movement in the CY Leung era.”
At around 8pm on Wednesday, a group of middle-aged men confronted youngsters working on a Lennon Wall outside the Domain shopping mall in Yau Tong.
The confrontation, which included verbal abuse and physical scuffles, moved into the Yau Tong MTR station, drawing supporters from both sides. Local media reports estimated that as many as 200 people were packed into the area from 10pm onwards.
Police officers arrived on the scene, and raised a red warning flag around 10:50pm – meaning they would use force if protesters continued charging.
OK, having spoken to two witnesses, I can explain what is reported to have happened before I arrived
After the confrontation with the pro-police crowd over the attempt to build a Lennon Wall, people congregated at various spots, including the escalator I am standing on #antiELAB pic.twitter.com/b5sQ2nmHUm
— Aaron Mc Nicholas (@aaronMCN) July 10, 2019
Police also closed off Exit A of the MTR station, which led to the shopping mall. One woman sat on an escalator in protest after police officers told her the path was blocked and she could not return home.
Four men, who were suspected of assaulting anti-government protesters, were led away by police around 12:30am Thursday. Crowds at the Yau Tong MTR station dispersed at around 1am.
Police confirmed to HKFP that a 56-year-old man was arrested for common assault, with the victim being a 33-year-old woman who was hurt in the face. The suspect has been released on bail and will need to report to the police later this month.
Another 57-year-old man was also arrested for common assault, but was released unconditionally after the victim – a 17-year-old man – decided not to press charges.
On Thursday morning, police arrested a 46-year-old man for assault occasioning actual bodily harm. In a video circulated online, the man was seen having an argument with bystanders next to a Lennon Wall near Amoy Gardens in Kowloon Bay.
In #HongKong, pro-Cops & pro-#China thugs are just around the corner in your neighborhood. The young man showed real #courage and wisdom as he defended the #LennonWall. Beware: Offensive language. The 7:46-long video was uploaded by Edith Leung to her Facebook. Location unknown. pic.twitter.com/PFGcGjY0OP
— Ray Chan (@ray_slowbeat) July 10, 2019
He then punched a younger man in the face several times, and ripped down parts of the message board.
“I am drunk, I can do anything I want, even stab you a couple of times,” he was heard saying. “If you can’t take a punch, how can you start a revolution?”
Police arrived on the scene and took the man away, and two victims – one aged 36 and the other 65 – were sent to United Christian Hospital.
The younger victim, surnamed Mak, told Apple Daily that he did not retaliate because “it may hurt other bystanders,” adding that he had a black belt in Taekwondo.
Mak added that the man insulted the young people volunteering at the Lennon Wall without provocation.
On Thursday, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan told reporters that the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) was looking into the environmental hygiene of different districts.
“If there are any complaints against the situation whereby it will cause any environmental hygiene problems, then the food and environmental hygiene staff will make an assessment and see how best to take forward,” Chan said.
Update (19:15): The story has been updated to include police information on arrests, and a comment from the Secretary for Food and Health.