With nightly scenes of riot police clashing with demonstrators, billowing clouds of tear gas, makeshift barricades and Molotov cocktails, the entire world is by now familiar with the social unrest currently gripping Hong Kong. Now in its sixth month and with no resolution in sight, what began as opposition to a proposed extradition law to mainland China and the perceived continued encroachment of Beijing on Hong Kong’s civil liberties has morphed into calls for universal suffrage and investigations into the excessive use of force by local law enforcement. Increasingly violent clashes culminated with police sieges of several university campuses, but since the holding of local district elections two weeks ago (which the pro-democracy camp won with overwhelming majority), the volatility seems to have calmed a little – at least for the time being.
As with the 2014 Umbrella Movement before it, public demonstrations and civil disobedience also find outlets in terms of street art and ad-hoc displays self-expression. So-called “Lennon Walls” have sprung up around the city in various locations and sizes, often carrying individual notes of support as well as more organized and targeted messaging of protestors’ demands and grievances. Such displays are often temporary as the posts are removed by the city, and sometimes by pro-government supporters. Just like the confrontations between demonstrators and police, it’s a bit of a cat-and-mouse game.
Many of the displays are near subway stations of the MTR (itself a target of the movement, accused of colluding with the government by enacting a de-facto curfew). Here are a several that I found wandering the city on a calm day. Many of the posts relate to the injuries and purported deaths of protesters due to police violence; others are words of encouragement and support; and still others are impressive works of art in themselves. Spend some time at a Lennon Wall and you’ll probably be moved by the messages – and in some cases bare desperation – of these youngsters.
All artwork is depicted copyrighted by the respective artists.