The arrest and charges against the participants of the demonstration against U.S. missile base in Poland.
Słupsk, 29-30 March 2008
On the 29th March a demo against U.S. missile base in Poland took place in Slupsk (northern Poland). More about the demo: www.tarcza.org and www.m29.bzzz.net.
Huge police forces were mobilized before the demo. Few days before the demonstration, policemen intruded the demonstration organizers asking about the details of the protest and were trying to intimidate them.
During the demo itself, where from 500 to 800 people took part, the police was not offensive. The police units were not visible, that's why the demonstration was peaceful. At the square where the hydepark took place, there was a big police car with video cameras.
The atmosphere got more tense when part of the activists (100-200 people) went to the military airport in Redzikowo, next to Slupsk. Above the anti-militarists a helicopter appeared and a lot of civil police cars around them. When the demonstrants finally reached the airport, cops with shields pushed the activists away from the fence. Then they moved to the main gate. The police that was there, used batons and dogs to push the demonstrants away. But no more serious disrupts took place. Two activists were arrested and were released after few hours.
After the protest has ended, at round 5.15 p.m., one of the activists was stopped in the center of Slupsk and arrested and fined with 650 zl (around 200 euro). The reason of this arrest was „littering and drinking beer in public”.
There was a tekno party organized as the afterparty of the demonstration in „Keller” pub in the evening. It finished late at night. Two people who took part in the party were later recognized as secret cops. The pariticipants of the party were also photographed by cops in a civil car parked on the other side of the street. The very same car was later seen following a group of 25 people who left the pub and were going to a flat of one of them to sleep. They got there at around 4.30 a.m.
At around 5.40 a.m., cops came to the flat where the 25 people went. They did not agree to let the cops in, because they didn't have any warrant. When the police kept on insisting , the owner of the flat went out to the staircase. During the conversation, he said that one of the cops can enter the flat to see if everything is ok. The cops answered „What the fuck are you talking about? I'm the one who decides what is going on!”. He was moved away from the door, pushed to the floor and handcuffed. The people who were inside the flat, tried to close the door, but cops blocked it with a baton. Then they sprayed pepper spray inside and few policemen rushed inside the flat.
This is how one of the people inside described the situation: „Before 6 a.m. we heard banging at the door, I would like to emphasize that it was not knocking, it was banging the door with a fist. The owner of the flat went to the door and said he can see policemen in the staircase but couldn't tell how many of them. He came back to the room where most of the not sleeping people were and told us what he's just seen. He went out to the staircase, together with a friend who stood in the door. The cops were aggressive and were shouting at them using swearwords. At one point, one policemen knocked the owner of the flat down, the other friend tried to close the door and as asking the others for help. At that point, it actually started to be quite noisy, because the other people's reaction was loud and immediate. We were holding the door asking the cops about the reason of their intervention and asking for showing their IDs. They replied with tons of swearwords („Open the fucking door”, „Shut the fuck up!”, „You're fucked!”). The door were slightly open because one of the cops put a baton in them. We were holding the door for a while and at one point people started to choke, felt throat burning, the cops didn't warn us they'd use pepper spray. The people dispersed. They were choking. I went to the open window to get some fresh air and then I noticed few more cops running to the flat. Policemen ran into the flat. All of us inside sat down. The cops were stamping on people still sleeping in their sleeping bags”.
The policemen inside were really violent, beating people up with batons and pulling people. Most people were still sleeping in the other room. According to their reports, one of the cops ran into that room, probably he wanted to open the window and he fell on of the the sleeping people. The other cops were beating with batons and were sitting on people's heads. They were handcuffing people who were still laying on the floor – some of them were later charged with policeman assault (sic!). The people who were handcuffed and were trying to stand up were kicked and pushed and humiliated. If they asked for loosening the handcuffs, then the reply was insulting again.
The cops denied to show their IDs. They also didn't say what was the reason of the violent action. In the beginning they said that the intervention happened due to „using intoxicationg substances”. Then the „policeman assault” version appeared. The arrested people heard the cops' conversation when one of them asked the other „Why we were actually there?” and the answer was „The authorities”.
The official version with the reasons of the arrest was peresented later by the police spokesman. According to his words, the reason of the intervention was „violation of the night calm”, that was disrupting the neighbors. It is hard to say whether any of the neighbors were actually disrupted with the loud behavior of the activists. The fact, that all of them support, is that most of the people inside were sleeping during the police intervention. First of all, it supports the version that it could have been too loud, second of all, it is really weird why all of the people inside got the fines for violating the „night calm”. It is also known that there was no audio equipment inside because the flat was emptied out before being rented out.
So far, only the spokesman's words support the version that it was an intervention called by somebody. The cops perfectly knew where the people from the pub went, because, as mentioned before, the were followed. The block of flats, where they stayed is at the so-called police neighborhood. In that particular block of flats at least 5 former or still working policemen live. The person who called the police for intevention (according to the police version) was a retired police officer. So the excuse for the intervention was not hard to get.
All of the detained people unequivocally say that there were several police cars taking part in the action from the very beginning, including policemen from prevention unit in bulletproof vests. Is that a standard procedure after the night calm violation?
At the police station
During the intervention, the activists called an ambulance. One man ofter being beaten up by the cops, was driven to the hospital, because there was a suspicion of a broken arm (it finally turned out that his arm was „only” heavily contused with a police stick).
The other people (23 of them) was driven to the central Slupsk police station. There, all of them were examined for alcohol (in spite of the fact the the cop spokesman said most of them were drunk, most of them were actually sober what confused the other cops) and were put in cells. They spent there from several up to 30 hours. During their stay there, most of their rights were broken, including:
- for 12 hours, nobody was informed about the reason of the intervention, the detention protocol was filled after that time
- the arrested people were not interviewed about the state of their health, they were not asked if they need medical help, even though some of them were beaten up by cops
- in spite of constant asking, they were denied to contact a lawyer or to inform their families about the arrest
- for dozen or so hours they were denied food or drink
- some of the detained people didn't get matresses for the beds
- in some cells the temperature was below 10 centidegrees because the windows were open (one person after being released was ill of bronchitis)
- the arrested people were insulted, humiliated, harrassed, mentally tortured
Also at the police staton, cops used physical violence, as one of the arrested people describes: „At the police station I was denied to contact my family. I was not allowed to make a phonecall, we were not informed about the possibility of making one phonecall. When one of our friends took his cellphone out, one of the cops jumped at him and twisted his head, even though he was handcuffed. I was sitting next to him and I was hit with a police boot”.
As mentioned before,the detained people were interrogated dozen or so hours after being arrested, the detention protocols were also filled at that time (those procedures should legally take place immediately after the actual arrest). The arrested people were asked about the details of the anti-US shield demonstration, about the clothes they were wearing at the demo etc. What is more, one of the arrested activists from Poznan saw documents including all data about identity control made during other demonstrations. She was also asked about her participation in the demonstration against the European Economic Forum in 2004 (sic!). One of the activists was also asked if he took part in the demo against George Bush's visit in Poland last year. Those are distinct evidences that the action was planned earlier and also that the cops are illegally collecting the data about the social-political movement activists.
The policemen didn't want to minute the testimonies where the activists were complaining about the violent police behavior. The cops were trying to force some people to sign testimonies that they didn't make. The people who denied to testify, were told that they have to do it because they are not testyfying as the accused, but as witnesses. Apart from that, classical methods of manipulation and lies were used: „you don't have to say anything, your friend already told us everything”, „if you don't sign it, you will stay here longer”. They were discouraged to make complaints about the arrest to the court, claiming that the procedures take a long time and they will have to wait for court's anwer in the detention.
Part of the less experienced activists unfortunately succumbed the manipulations and they signed the fines for night calm violation even though they claim nothing like that has happened. The perspective of more hours in the old cell was quite scary.
The effects of the brutal intervention
8 people were charged with policeman assault and insult, they can get up to 3 years of imprisonment for that. All of them also got police supervision, they are not allowed to leave the coutry and have to pay a bail of 300-500 zlotys (100-150 euro).
The other 15 people got fines for violating the night calm.
None of the policemen, who are said to be attacked by the „aggressive” activists had even a crumpled uniform. But at least 3 people (who made forensic examination) have signs of being beaten up by the police, from a contused elbow to a lot of bruises, abrasions which appeared because of being hit with police sticks, kicks and tight handcuffs.
Taking the mentioned facts into consideration, we can simply and with no doubts claim that the action of the police in Slupsk was definitely connected with the demonstration that happended on the 29th of March. It can be also suspected that it was made because of stricly political reasons and the aim of it was the criminalization of the participants of the „anti-shield” demonstration.
Slupsk – a police city?
We can also take a look at the other context of the situation. Slupsk has a opinion of a police-influenced city. There's a police academy there, quite a big number of the city inhabitants are somehow connected with police structures (family, friends, business contacts).
It was exactly in Slupsk, where some really odd examples of „hiding” the violent police behavior took place before. For example, in May 2005 one local newspaper wrote about a municipal police officer who was charged with murder, and the local prosecutor used only police supervision to control him. In 2004, the Slupsk police was really scrupulous with the action against the participants of the demonstration against the European Economical Forum in Warsaw. One local journalist was harrassed with telephones and followed, because the cops claimed he was an anti-globalist activist.
We should also mention the most famous „achievement” of the Slupsk police: killing a 13-year old boy in 1998 by a police officer Dariusz Wozniak. As it later turned out, there were a lot of complaints about the policeman, because he was said to be very violent. All of them were either hidden or dismissed. The legendary solidarity of the Slupsk cops was still working after those facts came out to daylight. The Trade Union of Police Officers paid 5,000 zlotys bail (around 1,500 euro), and only after 8 years of imprisonment he was released on parole. Today, he lives in Slupsk and gets a police pension.
Exactly because of this „solidarity” of cops tragedies like this take place. That is why the case of the attack, beating and false charges against the anti-militarist activists should be seriously treated not only by anarchist of anti-militarist organizations.
The report was made on the basis of the arrested activists testimonies, media coverage and our own observations.
Anarchist Black Cross Poznan
The arrested activists still need your support, also financial. We are collecting money for the legal help, the courtcases should start within few months. If you want to donate some money, here's the bank account:
mBank PL81 1140 2004 0000 3202 3517 7247
BRE Bank S.A. Retail Banking, al. Mickiewicza 10, 90-050 Lodz
BIC/SWIFT BRE Bank: BREXPLPWMUL
SORT CODE- 11402004
Write "for Slupsk"