Independence and Democracy proponents in Hong Kong are hoping rising protests are the “writing on the wall,” – quite literally in the worldwide spread of pro-Hong Kong Lennon walls.

But four masked men at the University of Queensland staged an apparent counterprotest, destroying the symbol of free speech, The Guardian reported.

“We had someone see it around 11 p.m. and it was fine,” University of Queensland international student Jack Yiu of Hong Kong told The Guardian. “We got reports around midnight that four guys in masks came and just tore everything apart. We have them on the footage. The CCTV got them. We are trying to figure out who did that – even whether they are students or not.”

Lennon walls are patchworks of colorful notes of protest and inspiration for specific causes – like the worldwide support for Hong Kong’s independence amid its classification as special administration region (SAR) of China.

“We kept fixing it and putting more stuff on it,” Yiu told The Guardian. “It became bigger and prettier – everyone’s effort and time.

“Everyone is free to put up a sticky note. Even some Chinese students put up some counter-opinions on it, and we are fine with that. Everyone is free to express their opinions – just don’t tear anything down. You’re not supposed to silence us, or get rid of debate.”

Lennon walls began in Prague, Czech Republic in the 1980s, where Beatles quotes are posted to share inspirations of the late peace activist John Lennon.

“We won’t stand down because of violence and those actions against us,” Yiu told The Guardian. “We’re just expressing our support to Hong Kong about democracy and freedom of speech.”

They are now symbols of free speech, in addition to protest and peace.

“The university does not condone any actions that prevent free speech, including the targeting of the Lennon wall in the student union complex overnight,” a University of Queensland spokeswoman told The Guardian. “The UQ Union has CCTV footage of their premises and has provided it to the university.”

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