Hong Kong Lennon Walls visit Battery Park

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | Traveling “Lennon Walls” created by young Hong Kongers were set up in Battery Park on Sat., Aug. 31.

The freestanding portable cardboard walls have been placed in parks around the city, allowing passersby to leave colorful post-its with words of support for Hong Kong democracy activists, who are entering their 13th week of protests in the semiautonomous region.

A total of seven portable Lennon Walls were brought to Battery Park on Sat., Aug.31. The walls are being brought to parks around the city to allow Hong Kongers to show their support for protesters and to help educate New Yorkers about the mass protests in Hong Kong. Yellow umbrellas are a symbol of the Hong Kong democracy movement. (Photo by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech)

A portable Lennon Wall made stints in Washington Square Park, Bryant Park and Times Square earlier this month. As more young Hong Kongers wishing to do their part to help friends and family back home learned about the effort, more walls were created.

On Sat., Aug. 24, three Lennon Walls were set up in Union Square Park. In Battery Park, seven stood in front of the Castle Clinton National Monument.

“Sometimes I feel desperate because I can’t help things in Hong Kong,” said Tse Fei, a 29-year-old Hong Konger. Fei had to stop taking part in protests when he arrived in the city in early August for an artist-in-residency program.

“Sometimes I regret coming to New York,” he said, feeling he should be back lending his efforts to the cause.

But Fei has found some solace in spending his free time helping with the portable Lennon Walls. Under the blazing sun, he stood next to the walls and passed out business cards with information on the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. It was something that many other young Hong Kongers keeping a watchful eye on the Lennon Walls during the time in Battery Park  also did. Stationary Lennon Walls have been defaced by Beijing supporters.

Introduced by Republican Senator Marco Rubio, of Florida, earlier this year, the legislation is an amendment to a 1992 bill that would require the U.S. secretary of state to issue an annual certification on Hong Kong’s democracy.

The portable walls were created partly in response to the repeated destruction of a permanent Lennon Wall on Grand St. in Chinatown. The name for that wall was appropriated from the Lennon Wall in Prague that became a spot for Czechs to express political thoughts through Beatles lyrics and graffiti.

Pro-Beijingers have stopped by the Grand St. wall and torn off notes on it or ripped down fliers and photographs. The most recent defacement occurred last week when huge letters spelling “F— H K Roach!” were spray-painted in red on the wall. The spray paint has since been removed and the notes restored.

Despite the obstacles they may face, Hong Kongers here and their New York allies will not stop doing what they can to support protesters back in Hong Kong.

“Hong Kongers are trying to follow the teachings of Bruce Lee,” said Anthony Yeung, 26, a New Yorker whose family is from Hong Kong. “‘Be like water.'”

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