A bulletin board covered in Post-It notes expressing support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong has been vandalized several times on the UC Berkeley campus, and some Chinese students find it offensive.
The so-called "Lennon Wall" — named after the John Lennon Wall in Prague, which inspired a mosaic wall of sticky notes and art that appeared in Hong Kong during some similar protests in 2014 — sprang up on the Cal campus several weeks ago, on a small bulletin board between Sather Gate and Telegraph Avenue. Since then it's grown incrementally with more sticky notes, some in English and some in Chinese. And as ABC 7 reports from the campus, it doesn't sit well with some Chinese nationals who are studying at the university for the summer.
Lennon Wall at Cal Berkeley growing slowly. Show HK your love and head over to contribute to this wall between Sather Gate and Telegraph across from the student union. #antiELAB #HKprotests #lennonwall #Cal #UCB pic.twitter.com/5T3QmjoSv0— NorCalHongKong (@NorCalHK) July 22, 2019
“John Lennon” walls - where ppl write notes of support for Hong Kong - have popped up around the world. This one is at @UCBerkeley.— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) August 13, 2019
Some students from mainland China have been tearing the notes down. You can see the difference from today vs yesterday (last 2 pics from a student) pic.twitter.com/sPWoTtiLvA
"Hong Kong is a part of China, it's absolutely true," says Xiu Ming Hung, a Cal student from China, speaking to ABC 7. "And [the protesters] use violence to beat the Hong Kong police."
Tiahui Xie, a summer session student from China, tells the station, "The only thing I want to write is 'I love China.'"
One of the students behind the Lennon Wall — who refused to give her name and wore a gas mask on camera to conceal her identity, for fear of retribution from afar by the Chinese government — says that students regularly rip down the notes, and she and several others then have to replace them.
"[The protesters] are so angry and eager to keep going," she tells ABC 7, "Because the government doesn't care what our demands are and they just like closing their ears."
Below, a video showing the student having a confrontation with several other Cal students — who apparently support the Chinese government — over the Lennon Wall.
Widespread protests have been ongoing in Hong Kong for ten weeks, all stemming from the Chinese government's attempt to encroach on Hong Kong's independence, and erode Hong Kong's version of a constitution, called the Basic Law. Many in Hong Kong have been frustrated in recent years that their freedoms are disappearing, and that China is trying to exert greater control over this city of 7 million that was once a colony of the United Kingdom.
For several days, protesters have virtually shut down Hong Kong's airport, which is one of the busiest in the world. KPIX spoke to some travelers at SFO arriving from Hong Kong who say their flight was delayed a full day, but that they support the protest.
Tensions rose at the airport Tuesday after protesters surrounded and beat up two men from mainland China who were trying to reach a departure gate — one of the men was believed to be a security officer with the government. As the New York Times reports, recognizing the negative image this portrayed to the world, protesters later appeared at the airport with signs apologizing to travelers, one of which said, "We're deeply sorry about what happened yesterday. We were desperate and we made imperfect decisions."
The Chinese government has begun making comparisons between the protesters and terrorists — and under Chinese law, the definition of "terrorism" is very broad. Many supporters of the protesters fear that the Chinese government is preparing to take violent action to quell the protests.