Tuesday 25 May 2010

Police Murder, Riots and Protest against Racism and Police Brutality

On Sunday May 23, police started a raid on some Nigerian traders who were selling shoes at the bazaar at the Stadium in the Praga district of Warsaw. One guy was apparently handcuffed and push to the ground. A 36-year-old colleague from Nigeria, Max, tried to intervene and get the police to stop brutalizing the other. Max was shot in the stomach and killed.
There immediately started to be problems with police, who tried then to chase and round up the rest of the panicked African traders, mostly from Nigeria. When more police arrived, some riot started. People were throwing stones and bricks at the police and 4 police vans were destroyed. 32 people were arrested.
The police immediately sent their spokesperson to invent a good story for the media: that police were "surrounded and attacked" by a gang of agressive Africans, so they had to shoot Max. As we later established from eye witnesses, the story was completely different.
ZSP released a statement and called for an emergency action the next day. During the day, the TV interviewed Max's wife, Monika, and Akai from ZSP, finally letting another version of events into the media.

Max had been in Poland legally for many years. He was married to Monika, a Polish woman, with whom he has three children, aged 10, 4 and 2. He was selling goods at the stadium as a second job to supplement his poor income and help support his family.

In the evening, people gathered at the site of the murder. Some speeches were made and then there was a spontaneous demonstration to the police station were the Africans are being held. The protestors took over the main street in Praga and marched to the station. At the station, a group of African friends of Max came and told people about what happened.

People would like to press this issue. We have learned that 25 of the 32 arrested will be charged with assaulting a police office, which faces up to 10 years in prison. We are receiving new video evidence from the site of the murder and eyewitnesses are coming forward. There will be some follow-up tomorrow.

Quick update (May 25 11AM): solidarity action has forced police to release everybody just now, however they are still being charged with assaulting the police and have to report into the police until the trial.

Video (in English):

Statement of ZSP Warsaw (in Polish):
Statement of Monika (wife of Max, in Polish):
Short video from mainstream media:


Videos and more to follow in the next days.