Polish far-right march leaders criticized after violence
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Members of Poland’s right-wing government have condemned leaders of an annual far-right march in Warsaw for having failed to prevent violence and injuries.
The Independence Day march Wednesday was planned to be held in cars and on motorbikes, to observe pandemic-era social distancing. But it was joined by an aggressive crowd on foot that clashed with the police, causing injuries and allegedly setting an apartment on fire with a firecracker.
Thirty-five riot police were wounded, three of who remain hospitalized, and 36 people were arrested, Warsaw police spokesman Sylwester Marczak said Thursday.
He said people from across Poland took part in the trouble.
Amid general outrage, some government politicians blamed the violence on far-right organizers who allowed people to march on foot and even joined in themselves.
“This is really sad that despite the assurances from the organizers ... it turned out in the end that they also walked in the march on foot. ... This should not have happened, said Blazej Spychalski, spokesman for President Andrzej Duda.
Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin called for the organizers to face criminal charges.
Warsaw authorities had banned the march, which a court also declared illegal, citing the ban on gatherings of over five people intended to stop the accelerating spread of the coronavirus.
Organized by far-right groups, the massive Independence Day marches have often led to clashes with left-wing groups and the police in the past.
The Nov. 11 national holiday marks Poland’s regaining of sovereignty after World War I.