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Action against Bases in Poland: Report, links to photos and video!

category poland / czech / slovakia | imperialism / war | news report author Friday April 04, 2008 16:32author by L. Akaiauthor email akai47 at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

Protest Against Proposed US Missile Base in Poland

On Saturday March 29, about 800-1000 people demonstrated against the installation of a US missile base in northern Poland. The base, which the governments of the US and Poland would like to build in Redzikowo, just outside of Slupsk near the Baltic Sea, would house elements of the American Missile Defense program, namely so-called interceptor missiles (which can also be used for offensive purposes. Despite the fact that 60% of local residents and over half of all Poles are strongly against the base, and only a small fraction of the rest support it, the government is intent to go ahead and build the base. A radar base is also to be built in the Czech Republic, again despite the opposition of most citizens.


Action against Bases in Poland


Protest Against Proposed US Missile Base in Poland: Good public support, politicians and police against the people

On Saturday March 29, about 800-1000 people demonstrated against the installation of a US missile base in northern Poland. The base, which the governments of the US and Poland would like to build in Redzikowo, just outside of Slupsk near the Baltic Sea, would house elements of the American Missile Defense program, namely so-called interceptor missiles (which can also be used for offensive purposes. Despite the fact that 60% of local residents and over half of all Poles are strongly against the base, and only a small fraction of the rest support it, the government is intent to go ahead and build the base. A radar base is also to be built in the Czech Republic, again despite the opposition of most citizens.

The Demo

The demonstration started with a Hyde Park / open meeting in front of the town hall. A few hundred local residents came to hear the arguments against the missiles, to demonstrate and to speak out. Many people spoke only the meeting had to be cut slightly short due to an inpending downpour of rain. The only person who spoke in favour of the base was a paid lobbyist, Andrzej Jodkowski who was hired by the American Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance to make pro-missile propaganda in Poland. He was lously jeered by the crowd and some old ladies tried to beat him with sticks. People of all ages came out but it was quite noticeable from both this demonstration and a meeting the day before that survivors of WWII are especially angry about the base and concerned about militarism and a few elderly people in their 70s and 80s spoke out.

During the Hyde Park, free food was served by Food Not Bombs and some theatre was made by the Autonomist Collective and Anarchist Federation group from Torun. A lively demo followed through the city. Slupsk is a city of under 100,000 people which very few activists and the only other such demonstration held there since the fall of communism was a May Day march organized by the Anarchist Federation in 2002. It was quite a sight for local people, many who watched or joined in. Two nice samba bands played, a car went with music, people chanted "No Missile Shield" and lots of other slogans that don't rhyme in English translation.

At the Base

After the main demo ended, a group of a bit over 100 people broke off and marched to Redzikowo, the site of the future American base, a former Polish airforce base during the PRL times, currently disused but still guarded by the military. The police and military started to show their strength, sending out a military helicopter and lots of police vans. (Police had to be sent in from Gdansk for this action. Although Slupsk is home of a police academy and has an extremely large police presence, they were not available as many of them had been sent to Kosovo.)

A small action was made at the side entrance and some people removed the ridiculous barricade made there and went on the territory, at which time the police started to act. However nothing happened since the police claimed to demonstrators that there was "nothing there" and "no base there" and therefore could not give a legitimate reason to the anarchists why they were not allowed on that area. They threatened to arrest people for not following police orders but not for trepassing.

The demonstration moved to the main gate of the base where there was some symbolic attempt to jump the fence. Some local residents came out to talk despite the fact that the large police presence and the cops with dogs could look a little scary. Again local residents, despite the fact that many of them were relatives of former military, complained about the base to the protestors. Mr. Jodkowski the lobbyist, who followed us during the whole march, could only walk around sheepishly trying to give the demonstrators cookies.

Unpleasant Actions and Police Violence

The whole action went without incident, accept perhaps not including problems with vanguardist frauds from the Young Socialists who openly disregard requests not to come with self-advertising, party flags. (They are known throughout Poland as being sleazy party-sponsored parasites who fraudently present themselves as organizers of other people's demonstrations.) However as soon as people left Redzikowo and dispersed, the cops took the opportunity to vent their frustration on some scapegoats.

For whatever reason, a small group of people stayed in Redzikowo. Police used dogs against them and one woman was bitten. They started to give people bullshit fines. One guy was fined for having a black flag on his car. Later, one guy was arrested and fined for cursing. The fine was almost 300 dollars US, really an incredible exaggeration for something like that which in no way should be a punishable offense.

The real problem happened lately on, in the early hours of the morning just before 5 AM. There was a concert/ after party. A group of people were followed from the party by the police. They returned to one guy's place, where a group of people were already sleeping. Shortly later the police raided and attacked them, including people who were sleeping. The pretext was "disturbing the peace" although clearly sleeping people were not disturbing the peace. People were gased and beaten. 23 people were arrested. One guy had his arm badly hurt – in fact hey was sure it was broken. (It turns out not to be broken but just badly hurt.) The police also thought his arm was broken and he was taken to the hospital. He escaped and called people to tell them what happened.

The police at first denied that anything happened or that anybody was arrested but later changed their story (more than once). Few people were left in town, but those who were went down to the police station to demand the release of the arrested. The police are claiming that this brutal attack has nothing to do with the demo but present the arrested as being drunk and disorderly. They are charged with typical bullshit charges of "not respecting the police" and two are being charged with "violating the intouchability of the police", which is more or less assaulting an officer. This charge is used against demonstrators quite often, usually in situations where the police is beating somebody and they try to ward off blows or get the police off them.

As of the time of this report, all but two of the arrested have been released, 8 of them being charged with "not respecting the police". (The two still in custody will probably have the more serious charges against them.) They are going to file a complaint against the police.

Anarchist Solidarity and Anarchist Black Cross will try to help them: for more information or to send a donation for legal help, contact anarchistsolidarity@yahoo.com.

The Struggle will Continue

The event was covered widely by local, national and some international press, although the American media refused to cover the event. Perhaps the action was not big and "spectacular" enough, but surely that's not the only reason. No worry though; if they go ahead with the base, which looks to be a strong possibility, this will just be the beginning. The next demo will be much bigger and louder.

The demonstration was organized by the Campaign against Militarism (started by anarchists but open to others) together with big participation others like the Anarchist Federation, the Autonomous Collective, some local, non-affiliated activists, some members of Greenpeace and the Union of Syndicalists. Practically all of the anarchist and anti-authoritarian groups in Poland were in attendance as well as some anti-war activists and a small handful of leftists from different groups and parties. A good part of the crowd was also made up of Slupsk residents. Probably this was the largest and most successful action we have made in a couple of years and undoubtedly the most important action against this military base that has happened so far in Poland. Despite the fact that most people are against the base, few people publically demonstrate their discontent. Unfortunately. The Campaign has decided to continue its work and, should the work on the base be started, to organize more radical protests and actions.

The campaign can be reached at campaignagainstmilitarism@gmail.com

The website for the action includes lots of info in English about the missile bases: www.m29.bzzz.net

Also see: www.tarcza.org.

There are many press reports in Polish as well as photo reports. Here are a few links to photo and video:

http://cia.bzzz.net/fotki_z_demonstracji_przeciw_tarczy
http://www.poland.indymedia.org/pl/2008/03/35657.shtml
http://www.poland.indymedia.org/pl/2008/03/35679.shtml
http://www.poland.indymedia.org/pl/2008/03/35692.shtml
http://www.poland.indymedia.org/pl/2008/03/35668.shtml
http://www.kfp.com.pl/index2.html?p=szukaj&klucz=antytarcza&zid=120697782247f1051e1433a&strona=2 (Commercial photo agency shit)
http://wiadomosci.gazeta.pl/Wiadomosci/1,80708,5068992.html (Main newspaper in Poland, video from TV)
http://www.gp24.pl/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080331/MAGAZYN/393713386 (Voice of Pomerania, videos, article. First video (multimedia) has English with speaker from Catholic Worker. Second, talking head in Polish, third has part of march.)

author by L. Akaipublication date Wed Apr 09, 2008 18:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Update about police repression in Slupsk

On March 29, a large demo was held against the installation of a US missile base in Poland. Early the next morning, a person's house was raided and 23 people were arrested. Here are some of the details.

A group of people were at an after-party / concert. They returned back home at 4:30AM. They had been followed by the police.

At about 5:40 they came to the flat. Most of the people were sleeping. The people in the flat refused to let the police in because they had no warrant and there was no reason to do so. The police refused to go away so the resident of the flat went out to the corridor. After much insistance, he suggested that he could let one cop in the flat, just to see that people were sleeping and everything was OK. The cop instead was screaming something like "what the fuck are you telling me who can go in and who can't" and the resident of the flat was forced away from the door, knocked on the ground and handcuffed. The cops then started forcing their way in, using tear gas. The people in the flat tried to get the door shut and insisting that the cops identify themselves, but they were gassed.

The police came in, stomping over people who were still sleeping or lying on the floor. Some people were beaten, others handcuffed while still lying on the floor.

Some of the people who were sleeping in another room when the police arrived were charged with disturbing the peace at night and assaulting an officer.

The people arrested were not informed of the charges against them for 12 hours, despite repeated requests. They were not allowed to contact anybody (like a lawyer or parent) or see a doctor. Most of them were not offered anything to eat or drink for almost the whole day.

During questioning, police had information about other demonstrations printed out. They asked people about the demonstration and also about some previous ones. They were (falsely) told that if they complained or appealed their arrest they would spend the entire period waiting for a court decision in detention. The cops also used typical manipulation tactics like telling people that their friends already snitched on them.

In the end, 15 people were charged with disturbing the peace and 8 people were charged with offending and assaulting an officer. Each of those eight are forbidden to leave the country, have to be on parole and had to but up bail of between $120 and 200 USD. In Poland, court cases can take years, so it is a harsh punishment.

It's clear that this is just typical bastard behaviour from the cops and these people were made scapegoats. We will not let them get away with such an outrageous injustice!

At least $1400 is needed for initial legal fees. Anarchist Solidarity, Anarchist Black Cross and the Campaign Against Militarism are appealing for help in the form of donations or other shows of solidarity. (Spreading and translating this news, sending nasty faxes, etc.)

Bank Account:
Jakub Gawlikowski
PL05 1140 2004 0000 3702 4238 2269
BRE Bank S.A. Retail Banking, al. Mickiewicza 10, 90-050 Lodz
BIC/SWIFT: BREXPLPWMUL
SORT CODE: 11402004
Write: M29

More info:
anarchistsolidarity@yahoo.com
ack-wawa@o2.pl
campaignagainstmilitarism@gmail.com

 
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