A pro-Beijing lawmaker has called for a clean-up of the ‘Lennon walls’ in all of the city’s 18 districts on Saturday, sparking fear of another round of violence erupting between government supporters and citizens who back the protests.
Lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu called for supporters via his Facebook page to join a “Clean Up HK” campaign on Saturday – “to tear the trash that affects the city, clean the walls and cleans the people’s hearts”.
Ho later posted a video saying he aimed to recruit 30,000 volunteers to join the campaign and would welcome Hong Kong residents and mainlanders, saying the clean-up should be done before October 1, which is the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.
Volunteers will be divided into groups of 100 and sent to clean about 90 areas in the city, including Lennon walls – areas where people have stuck up a mass of public notes – in various communities, plus areas around the government headquarters in Admiralty and MTR stations that were damaged by “thugs” and “cockroaches”, terms used by police and pro-Beijing supporters to describe protesters.
He suggested that participants should not get into conflict with residents and should stay “peaceful and rational”.
Ho is a controversial political figure who came under the spotlight when he publicly defended white-clad men, some of who were reportedly gangsters, who attacked civilians in Yuen Long MTR station with rattan canes and poles on July 21. He was also filmed shaking their hands and thanking them.
Lennon walls first started in the area around the government complex in Admiralty during the 2014 Umbrella Movement and re-emerged when the extradition bill protest started in June. People wrote down pro-democracy messages on colorful Post-it notepaper and pasted them on the wall.
The walls later appeared in different districts as the protests grew. It also served as a community message board with information about rallies or marches, or updated news about the protests.
The walls have also appeared in countries overseas where Hong Kong people have posted messages to the protesters standing up to Beijing.
But some posts featured personal information about police officers who came under heavy criticism for their behavior during clearance operations. In some areas, the force deployed officers to take the posts down.
In recent months, there have been a number of clean-ups done either by an individual or groups who were arranged to take down the sticky papers. But soon after they were destroyed, other people posted new colorful notes and drawings on the wall again.
The Lennon walls have also become place where quarrels, fights and violent clashes have broken out in recent months.
In August, a 50-year-old man was arrested for allegedly attacking three people with a knife outside a Lennon wall in Tseung Kwan O, while another man was caught on camera repeatedly punching a Lennon wall volunteer in the face in July.
Last Saturday, fights erupted in Hang Hau in the New Territories, at Fortress Hill on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Bay, when groups of pro-Beijing supporters responded to calls to tear down the posters.
Yip Hing-kwok, a district councilor for Kwun Tong’s To Tai constituency, said a violent clash broke out in the area after a group of pro-Beijing people gathered and sang national anthem in the Amoy Plaza shopping mall. He said there was “no need to come to our community [for clean-up campaign],” news website HK01.com reported.
Yip said he worried fights and chaos would erupt on Saturday, so he has asked the managers of the shopping mall and housing cluster to deploy more people to help maintain order.