Hundreds of pro-government activists have damaged the “Lennon Tunnel” in Tai Po, pasting up flyers for a rally on Saturday and leaving “mourning wreaths” for pro-democracy politicians.
“Lennon Walls” have become a city-wide phenomenon after a month of political upheaval against the extradition bill, as thousands of supportive messages have appeared on dozens of public walls across the territory. The Tai Po incarnation, covering a whole pedestrian tunnel, is the biggest.
Ray Au, a Tai Po district councillor, said he saw around a dozen suspicious people at Tai Po Market station at midnight on Friday. Volunteers who were manning the tunnel called police.
“We hoped the police would increase patrols to stop any damage,” Au said.
At around 1:30 am, several men arrived. Au said volunteers recognised them as people who had damaged the tunnel before.
Au said that, within 30 minutes, around 400 people in white shirts and 50 in black shirts arrived in six 60-seat tour buses and several private vehicles. They ripped messages down from the tunnel’s walls, and put up posters for Saturday’s pro-government rally.
They removed the “Lennon Tunnel” characters on top of the tunnel, and replaced it with characters meaning “dead” – referring to Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s claim that the extradition bill is dead.
They also placed “mourning wreaths” for pro-democracy lawmakers Claudia Mo and Lam Cheuk-ting, singer and activist Denise Ho and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, cursing them to die.
Volunteers called police twice at around 2:15am and 2:21am. Police arrived after the unknown people had damaged the tunnel for around 10 minutes. Police dispersed the people but did not stop them or check their identities, Au said.
“Police said they did not see anyone causing damage or taking away any items,” he said.
Afterwards, police stopped 20 people who left on foot, and a woman was taken to a police station for investigation after she failed to produce identification documents.
Earlier this week, unknown people put up flags of foreign countries in the tunnel, as well as papers that read “eight-country joint army,” claiming foreign interference.
“Lennon Walls” in other districts have seen different levels of destruction including instances of arson in Fanling, Chai Wan and Sai Wan Ho.
Saturday’s pro-government rally will be held on in Admiralty at 5pm, calling for an end to “violent protests.” Organisers said the rally will be peaceful, as they urged participants to wear light-coloured clothes such as white or light blue, not to wear masks or helmets and not to participate in any clashes.