Public urged to exercise caution at Lennon Walls

August 22, 2019 14:51
‘Lennon Walls’ have seen conflicts erupt between pro and anti-government groups in the wake of the anti-extradition bill movement. As per police, there had been 57 cases of fighting or violent attacks near the message walls since June. Photo: Reuters

Following multiple cases of violence at the so-called Lennon Walls, where people have been posting messages in relation to Hong Kong's ongoing protest movement, the police have urged the public to exercise caution and be mindful of their personal safety while visiting such areas.

A shocking incident on Tuesday, when a chopper-wielding man attacked some people at a message wall in Tseung Kwan O, should serve as a reminder to citizens to be extra careful at such facilities, authorities suggested.   

The Lennon Walls have become high-risk places as they were connected to multiple cases including assaults and fighting that have taken place in the city recently, the police said.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, a senior police official said there had been 57 cases of fighting or violent attacks at such locations between June and August 20.

The cases led to 47 people getting arrested, he said.

“They were arrested mainly for criminal damage, fighting in a public place, common assault, and possession of offensive weapons,” said John Tse Chun-chung, chief superintendent of the police's public relations unit.

Referring to conflicts breaking out in society, as people have differences of opinion on issues, the police “appeal to everyone to adopt a lawful and peaceful means of expression”, Tse said, while noting that freedom of speech is to be respected. 

The comments came after three people were slashed by a man in the wee hours of Tuesday after he argued with them in a Tseung Kwan O pedestrian tunnel where a Lennon Wall was set up.

The 50-year-old assailant, who was arrested later on the same day, was denied bail after appearing at the Kwun Tong Magistrates' Court on Thursday morning.

The man faces three counts of wounding, and a plea has yet to be entered. The magistrate adjourned the case to Oct. 17 pending further police investigation.

Lennon Walls, which first appeared in Hong Kong during the pro-democracy Occupy movement in 2014, have sprung up across the city in the past two months, with people using them to express their anger over the government’s extradition bill move and its handling of the ensuing protests.

The messages have also targeted the police, who have been accused of using excessive force on demonstrators through tactics such as tear gas and bean bag rounds.

As for the culprit responsible for Tuesday's Tseung Kwan O assault, police, after investigations, believe there were several factors that led him to commit the attack.

It is said that the man had consumed alcohol before the incident, and had got into a dispute with the victims as he did not agree with their opinions. Also, he was suspected to be emotionally disturbed as he had encountered problems at work.

One of the victims, a 26-year-old reporter who had been working for the Hong Kong Economic Journal, was once in critical condition at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. But she is now stable, according to a statement issued Wednesday by her family and friends in relation to her current condition.

But she still needs rest for her recovery, they said.

As of Thursday morning, the injured journalist remains hospitalized, while the other victims in the attack, a man and another woman, had been discharged.

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