The fight over control of a bulletin board at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) escalated on Tuesday after a large piece of red paper that management used to cover pro-independence messages was reportedly torn down by a student.
The incident happened a day before the deadline in an ultimatum issued to university staff by the student union and 37 other campus groups. They called for the removal of the red paper by noon on Wednesday.
The board, also known as the democracy wall, was for students to post notices to express their views.
The row started after the union, which manages the wall, relaxed rules on Monday last week, following an unprecedented government ban against the separatist Hong Kong National Party.
Two days after that, a small poster made of four stickers bearing the Chinese characters for “Hong Kong independence” appeared on the wall.
The university requested that the union remove the material and, after no action was taken, management on Saturday used the red paper to cover the wall, prompting the student union to issue its ultimatum.
According to student union president Lam Wing-hang, as he was making a speech in front of the wall at about 1pm on Tuesday, a male student rushed forward and tore down the paper.
Meanwhile, at the University of Hong Kong, posters and banners backing the Hong Kong National Party on its democracy wall were found to have been removed on Tuesday.