Riots broke out throughout the Polish capital Warsaw, as thousands of far-right supporters took part in the annual Independence Day march.
On Wednesday, November 11, far-right supporters attended the annual Independence Day march despite nationwide lockdown restrictions. The event was promoted under an anti-LGBTQ+ slogan of ‘our civilisation, our rules’ and poster depicting a traditional Polish hussar warrior driving their sword into a rainbow star.
This poster literally shows that this guy wants to break geys etc. propably becaose of "aTtATk On pOliSh faMiliEs aND a FuNdaMentAtiOn oF OUr cIViliZaTion".#marszniepodległosci pic.twitter.com/TSdEyncidZ
— K. TeBiGi Ś. (@Redziak2181) November 6, 2020
Speaking with VICE News, head of Poland’s anti-racist Never Again Association, Rafal Pankowski, stated, “We know this is an event which has always been organised by radical, far-right groups. But I think it’s the first time that the official message of the event is so openly, blatantly directed against a specific minority with these violent overtones.”
Despite authorities calling for the Independence Day march in Warsaw to be cancelled under lockdown restrictions, far-right supporters went ahead with the event. The rally quickly erupted into violence as attendees clashed with police officers.
Social media footage captured scenes of marchers hurling flares at an apartment building displaying banners supporting pro-choice and LGBTQ+ rights. Although a fire broke out, a Warsaw fire brigade spokesperson said nobody was hurt in the incident.
Participants of the far-right #independencedayMarch in #Warsaw set a house on fire because of a #LGBTQI flag and a #StrajKobiet banner on a balcony. #MarszNiepodegłości #MarszNiepodegłości2020 pic.twitter.com/NF8Z1XRoBC
— democ. (@democ_de) November 11, 2020
On Twitter, the police reported they had come under attack by groups of hooligans. Further footage showed rioters barging into buildings, lighting flares, and hurling projectiles at police and buildings.
Head of the far-right Independence Day March Association, Robert Bąkiewicz, accused authorities of provoking marchers. On Twitter, he wrote, “Today, Polish patriots were unfortunately gassed and battered by the police.”
Pod Stadionem Narodowym dalsze prowokacje. Policja dążyła do konfrontacji. pic.twitter.com/3hyUPie69D
— Robert Bąkiewicz (@RBakiewicz) November 11, 2020
Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski said that the cost of the damage caused by the Independence Day riots are still unknown. On Facebook, he wrote, “Clashes with the police, damage, trains held up, probably a (case of) arson, this is how the far-right, overindulged by the ruling team, is observing Independence Day.”
The far-right riots occurred on the same day a bill was submitted to Poland’s parliament requesting the banning of LGBTQ+ parades and any other public gatherings that “promote” non-heterosexual orientations and gender identities. The Archbishop of Szczecin, Andrzej Dzięga, said, “The purpose of the bill is to protect against LGBT propaganda[,]…gender ideology and practices that are contrary to nature. It is also a manifestation of respect for the homeland, spiritual and patriotic values…[and] maintenance of moral order.”
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