Remember this Polish neo-nazi group National Radical Camp, or ONR, who recently organised beach patrols in Italy in order to “protect women from migrants“?
Yesterday they, together with another extreme right grouping All-Polish Youth (Młodzież Wszechpolska, MW), held a march in Warsaw. The march, held annually, commemorates the Battle of Warsaw: the decisive Polish victory in Polish- Soviet war in 1920. Around 150 neo-fascist and extreme right activists, largely young men, gathered for the occasion to shout anti-communist and anti-left slogans.
They were met with a slightly bigger counter-protest, organised by a wide range of left and liberal groups. The antifascists, following their succesful blockade of a neo-nazi march in May, decided to block the fash from marching by performing a sit-in protest on their route.
Around 200 people: from very young antifa folk to elderly women, sat on the road, with the intention of stopping ONR and MW from marching in Warsaw. The action was meant to be peaceful and silent show of civil disobedience, and so many protesters came barefoot, bearing banners expressing their opposition to the extreme right march being allowed to happen in their city. similarly to the May action, most participants were women.
Both the Polish nationalists and the counter-protesters were outnumbered by the police, who appeared to be determined to clear the way for ONR and MW.
The police, in rather brutal fashion, broke the antifascist blockade. You can watch a video here (the action starts at approx 30:00). At first, the cops warned the counter-protest that they will use “necessary force”, should the people not leave. Later, the police moved on to clear the road from the sit-in protest by force and stop and search people. At least one person was arrested, while many complained that they are being hurt by the officers forcibly moving them off the road. One frail looking elderly lady was dragged to the pavement by a number of officers: despite of her vocally warning them that she suffers extreme back pain. Another woman, and activist from Polish Women Strike, had her arm broken when she was being removed from the road.
An eye-witness who took part in the antifascist blockade, speaking to Freedom News, said that the police essentially assisted and protected ONR and MW, hence ensuring their march is not stopped by counter protest. On at least one occasion, the police coordinted their actions with the fascist march organisers, with whom they discussed a slight change in the march’s route: a change which meant that the cops’ brutal removal of the antifascist blockade was not necessary at all for the march to move forward.
Due to the police assistance, the fascists managed to complete their march. However, the antifascist activists, after their sit in protest was broken, changed their tactics and walked directly in front of the ONR and MW, bearing their banners and shouting Alerta, alerta, antifascista!
In last three years, fascist marches in Polish cities are common sight. The good news is that they are being met with increasingly well organised resistance, coming both from activist groups and ordinary citizens.