Instead of being a family-centred, peaceful holiday, the 102nd anniversary of Poland’s regaining independence quickly turned into street clashes and brawls. After yesterday’s march, over 300 people were detained. A fire broke out in one of the apartments of Warsaw’s Powiśle district as nationalists threw flares at a window with a rainbow flag on it. The police published an image of the perpetrator and asked Polish citizens for help in the search.
In an attempt to disperse crowds at the march, police used smooth-bore guns. A “Solidarity Weekly” photographer, Tomasz Gutry, was shot in the face with a rubber bullet.
“The commanding officer has already ordered an explanation. Our aim was not to target journalists, but those who were aggressive towards the police.” said Sylwester Marczak, the spokesman for Warsaw police.
Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration, Mariusz Kamiński, defended the police.
“Given the aggressive behavior of some of the participants in the demonstration, the use of direct coercive measures by the police was necessary. Each time, they were appropriate to the situation. The police always aim to ensure public order and security. The response to aggression and violence must be a firm and decisive police response (…) I pay tribute to all those participants in the Independence March who celebrated today’s anniversary with dignity. I also hope that the organizers of the march will properly evaluate the behavior of those participants of the congregation whose attitude had nothing to do with celebrating independence.” said Minister Kamiński.
During the demonstration, the city infrastructure was also damaged. For the time being, the Warsaw Town Hall is analyzing the possibilities of taking legal action. The losses are estimated at several dozen thousand zlotys.
“The losses of the town were already being estimated yesterday. The town bicycle stop was damaged, there was an attempt to set fire to the door in one of the town hall’s offices, paving stones and posts were damaged.” stated Karolina Gałecka, the spokeswoman for the Warsaw city hall.
Some politicians point out that some of the actions carried out by the police require more control.
“We believe that all reports of incidents which have been flowing in must be assessed and explained. We must wait for the findings of the services and police. Every aggression must be thoroughly explained, no matter who instigated it. Every person who abuses their power should be punished.” commented Adam Andruszkiewicz, the secretary of state in the Prime Minister’s office.