A community organizer has shared video of a heated exchange between local supporters of the protests in Hong Kong and supporters of the Chinese government.
On Tuesday, pro-democracy supporters marked China’s National Day by building a “Lennon Wall” covered with Post-It notes carrying messages of support near the Aberdeen SkyTrain station.
Counter-protesters, allegedly showing support for the Chinese government, appeared to tear the wall down, leading to pushing and shoving.
“There was a group of individuals forming that were very much starting to intimidate as well as act aggressively,” said Kevin Huang, who shared video of the incident on social media.
Huang noted that there have been similar confrontations in the Metro Vancouver area, including a large demonstration in August near the Broadway-City Hall SkyTrain station that forced the closure of a major intersection.
Those duelling protests saw Hong Kong supporters wave banners calling for an end to police violence in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, while Beijing supporters carried Chinese flags and demanded an end to the protests altogether.
So-called “Lennon Walls” filled with anti-government messages have popped up throughout Hong Kong.
Huang says similar walls, named after a large mosaic in Prague to honour John Lennon, at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University have been damaged by supporters of the Chinese government.
He says pro-democracy supporters are putting their lives at risk by taking a stand.
“The pro-Beijing organizers have also been taking quite close headshots of some of the organizers that have been attending the rallies, and there is the real danger that people are being doxxed so their information are being released online as a way to attack them and silence them,” he said.
UBC Asian Studies Professor Josephine Chiu-Duke says the video shows just how heated the debate has become. She says she understands that supporters of the Chinese government have strong emotional ties to China, but “they should try to understand this is a liberal democratic system.”
Richmond RCMP were already on hand and broke up the two sides before the situation escalated.
No one was arrested, though police say they will continue to keep a close eye on confrontations like this.
— With files from Sean Boynton