Hong Kong protests: Police fire tear gas as pro-China supporters tear down 'Lennon Walls'

Harriet Brewis
A pro-China supporter pulls down walls of pro-democracy posters and Post-it notes: Getty Images

Hong Kong erupted in further clashes after pro-China supporters tore down “Lennon Walls” of anti-government protest messages.

Dozens of Beijing supporters ripped through large mosaics of colourful Post-it notes calling for democracy and denouncing perceived Chinese meddling in the former British colony.

The installations have spread across the city, at bus stops and shopping centres, under footbridges and along pedestrian walkways.

They have also become occasional hotspots for violence in over Hong Kong’s three months of unrest.

Pro-China supporters tear down so-called 'Lennon walls' of protest messages as riot police stand guard (Getty Images)

“I am a Chinese man” one pro-Beijing protester shouted in defence of his actions when confronted by pro-democracy activists.

Police responded with volleys of tear gas as demonstrators marched through Saturday’s blistering midday heat.

Hong Kong’s fierce protests began in June over legislation, now withdrawn, that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Demands have since evolved into calls for universal suffrage and an independent investigation into police behaviour.

An anti-government protester is detained during a march in Tuen Mun, Hong Kong (REUTERS)

A vocal critic of the protests and pro-Beijing city legislator, Junius Ho, had reportedly urged his supporters to clear up the approximately 100 “Lennon Walls” around the city on Saturday.

The walls are named after the John Lennon Wall of 1980s communist-controlled Prague that was covered with Beatles lyrics and messages of political grievance.

But in a Facebook post shared late on Friday, Mr Ho said “for the sake of safety” the Lennon Walls would not be cleared up, only the streets.

“We will clean up the environment with a peaceful and rational attitude,” he wrote, according to the Guardian.

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Police use tear gas and water cannons on Hong Kong protesters

Protesters have refused to yield despite the government's promise to withdraw an extradition bill that triggered the protests months ago.

They have widened their demands to include direct elections for their leaders and police accountability.

Many saw the extradition bill, which would have allowed some Hong Kong suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial, as an example of Hong Kong's autonomy eroding since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

A pro-democracy protester throws a molotov cocktail to set a barricade on fire during clashes with police (AFP/Getty Images)

Police have responded to the protests with tear gas, water cannon, rubber bullets and several live rounds into the air, prompting accusations of brutality which they deny.

Amnesty International on Friday said some police treatment of detainees amounted to torture.

However, police insist they have respected the “privacy, dignity and rights” of those in custody according to regulations, allowing detainees transport to hospitals and communication with lawyers and their families.

Protesters had said on Friday that while they did not want violence, they would defend themselves if they were attacked.