POLAND: Police clash with anti-lockdown protesters in Warsaw on first day of new restrictions

Article originally published by Notes From Poland on 24 October 2020

Police detained 278 people at 24 October anti-lockdown protests in Warsaw. Hundreds more were fined on the spot or sent to court for violating coronavirus restrictions. Four officers were injured in clashes, during which police deployed tear gas

Police today deployed tear gas and used force against anti-lockdown protesters in Warsaw, at a march held on the day that new coronavirus restrictions went into force across Poland.

The event was titled “International March of Freedom”, and took place alongside other similar protests around the world. It drew a crowd of thousands, reports RMF24.

Among them were two of the leaders of the far-right Confederation (Konfederacja) party, as well as Poland’s most prominent anti-vaccine activist, who all addressed the crowd from a stage.

The organisers said that their aim was to express opposition to the “global political and financial forces” that are using the pandemic as a means of “generating panic and fear” in order to introduce “unlawful and scientifically unjustified restrictions” that “restrict civil rights” and “build a totalitarian state”.

They also claim that coronavirus measures are unnecessarily “destroying companies and the economy”. Such protests first emerged during the tougher full lockdown in spring, beginning with demands for support from business owners but evolving into much broader demonstrations.

Despite the removal of most restrictions by the summer, regular protests have continued, with many participants claiming that COVID-19 is a “pandemic” being exploited to control society.

The organisers of today’s event admitted that it would likely face police action due to not complying with government restrictions limiting the size of public gatherings. Images from the protest show that participants also did not cover their mouths and noses, as is currently required in outdoor public areas.

warnings were ignored, officers took “decisive action” in response to “blatant violation of safety rules related to the epidemic”, the police announced.

After then “facing aggression and physical attacks” from the protesters, the police deployed tear gas and used physical force, they said in a statement. Some of the demonstrators threw bottles at the police, reports Gazeta Wyborcza. A number of them were detained.