Silesian antifascist were quick to organize a legal aid for all the arrested, fined and charged. Local activists are still gathering the evidence of police brutality and relations of witnesses and victims of it, the lawyer hired by antifascists is working on the lawsuit against the police.
For now, the most pressing issue is to collect enough money to cover the costs of legal aid, as well as the financial fines against antifascists.
Silesian antifascists and activists from other regions of Poland gathered at 1:30pm on Korfantego Avenue, on the planned route of the neofascist march. As the meeting point, next to the local theatre, proved to be separated from the fascist march by a fence and the construction site, and police presence was strong, around 2pm decision was taken to move the protest to alternative location, on Stawowa Street. In spite of the fact, that the new place was agreed with the local authorities in advance and the demonstration was ‘legal’ according to Polish law, riot police armed with batons, shields and shotguns tried to stop the marching antifascists and prevent them from reaching their destination. Thanks to their determination, more than 100 of protesters avoided police blockades and got to Stawowa.
Around 2:30 pm the neofascist march has reached the place of demonstration, greeted by a hale of stones, paintbombs and fireworks, thrown by antifascists from behind the riot police lines. The nazis responded with bottles and smoke flares. After around 15 minutes of this confrontation the march has passed. This was the moment when the riot police started its assault on antifascists. Without any warning or explanation, riot police started to push the protesters, using batons, shields and kicks. One of the female activists that tried to negotiate with the police was pushed to the ground and brutally beaten, as well as four other antifascists pulled from the crowd by undercover police officers and arrested on the spot. Between 14:30 and 15:00, there were at least three other police charges on kettled antifascists, during which the protesters were kicked, beaten with batons and verbally abused by the police. The organizers of the demo were unable to talk to the officer in charge of the action, in spite of numerous attempts to do so.
Finally at around 3pm the police bus has arrived and about 60 protesters were pushed inside. The rest of the arrested were transported to the central police station in Katowice in minibuses, and around 30 of them were kettled for 3 hours before the arrest.
Police brutality and repressions against antifascists
Altogether, around 110 people were arrested (nearly all the protesters that made it to Stawowa). During the arrest, numerous of them were beaten and abused by the riot police and plain clothes officers (one of whom was so aggressive that one of the other coppers has to force him to leave the demo). The police has broken the law – the officers have refused to give their names, ID numbers and the reasons of the arrest to the arrested (instead, the antifascist were threaten with violence if they refuse to get inside the police vans). In spite of legal requirements, arrested antifascist were not informed about the possible legal aid, the police refused to contact their next of kin and to provide a medical help for these in need of it.
One of the activist, suffering from asthma, has developed a breathing problems after 3 hours in police bus – she requested a medical help, but the police officer escorting her has refused to call emergency service – he let her leave the bus for… 5 minutes instead.
After the arrival to the main police station in Katowice, arrested antifascist were forced to stay in a vans and buses for 3 hours, without water, fresh air or toilet, before being transferred to the cells. In every cell, designed for 3 people, police has crowded between 11 and 25 protesters. They were left there for another 3 – 5 hours before the hearing, without food and water. The private belongings, left by the arrested on the corridor were unlawfully searched without warrant and in absence of its owners.
Finally, after 8 hours of detention the protesters were forced out of cells, only to be blackmailed to accept a fixed fine of 200PLN (about 50 euros/40pounds) for ‘disturbing the legal demonstration.’ Those, who refused were threatened with further 48 hours detention and pushed back to cells. Only after accepting the fine, the rest were allowed to the hearing room, informed about their legal rights (right to appeal against the arrest, legal aid, contacting the family, medical help), and after another half an hour let out of police station around midnight.
In spite of the threats, also the people that refused to accept the fine were released.
In total, 88 people has admitted the minor offences and fined, further 20 has refused the fine and will stand a trial for the same offences.
Six of the antifascists were charged with the assault on police officer (maximum penalty 10 years in prison) and stayed in dock till midday Monday – later on, after formal hearing with prosecutor they were released on bail. The police has prevented the lawyer, hired by the antifascist, from being present during the hearings of 5 of the charged.
For now, all the antifascist detained after the 14 of April demonstration in Katowice are free and have the legal aid provided. Bigger part of the arrested has appealed against unlawful detention as well as the fixed fines imposed on them. The lawsuit against the police is being prepared and the evidence from the victims and witnesses of police violence is gathered.
The press conference regarding the events in Katowice is held on Thursday, 19 of April.
Because of the fines and the mounting cost of the legal aid, Silesian antifascists are in urgent need of financial help. They might by contacted by the e-mail: