The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.
Do not hype the report “Man in Xi’an Whose Home Was Demolished Murders the Man Responsible.” When handling this type of case, take care to downplay collective opposition, and do not publish gory images. (May 26, 2015) [Chinese]
The Xi’an newspaper Hua Shang Bao reports that a middle-aged man hacked to death the man in charge of the demolition company which knocked down his home. The paper describes in graphic detail the scene of the crime:
According to shopkeepers in the vicinity, the incident occurred around 9 a.m. next to the sign for the Shengchan Road bus stop on Ziqiang East Road in Xi’an. One eyewitness stated that, according to locals, the murderer was forced to relocate from his home and is over 40 years old. The murderer professed that he had revenge to carry out. As soon as the victim stepped off the bus, he was blocked by the murderer, who stabbed the victim several times before taking a hatchet to his head.
Eyewitnesses said a nearby shop[keeper] and a passerby exhorted the murderer not to do that wrong thing, but the murderer said he had been blocked by this man for six years, and had been looking for him all this time. When the murder was complete, the man did not leave the scene, but wiped the blood off his hands with newspaper, then told onlookers that he lived near Shengchan Road, and that he had been searching for the man he had stabbed for years because of problems with the demolition and relocation of his home.
[…] After the incident, the murderer went on to tell onlookers that he did not have a cell phone, and asked them to call the police. He did not run. The police arrived quickly and put him in handcuffs, but he then told them he would go with them willingly, and handcuffs were not necessary. A red purse filled to the brim lay next to the victim. An eyewitness said the bag belonged to the murderer and held a hatchet and dagger. [Chinese]
On Weibo, netizens have responded largely with sympathy to the perpetrator, painting him as a victim of society who either rightfully took his revenge, or else was driven to madness:
Litongmingltm (@李通明ltm): However great the oppression, so to the revolt.
Hanxuewomeihua (@寒雪卧梅花): Injustice has its head, debt has its owner. If you are unharmed, you are innocent!
Fenfatuqiangdeheibao (@奋发图强的黑豹): Actually, it sounds like the man from the demolition company had some amount of power, but he was also just doing the legwork. The ones who truly make suffer those forced to relocate are standing in the shadows, unseen by ordinary people. [Chinese]
Local governments often forcibly relocate residents and tear down their homes to make way for lucrative real estate development. Residents sometimes strike back, refusing to move for years until their houses stick out like nails against the construction surrounding them, or by protesting or physically confronting demolition teams. In May 2012 a woman set off a suicide bomb at a government building in Yunnan after losing her home, killing herself and two others. In 2011, villagers in Wukan, Guangdong revolted when local officials sold their land to real estate agents without adequate compensation.