Politicians Threaten Activist with Repression while Public Seethes over Cuts and other Anti-Social Policies
When you fight with a criminal state, you can expect them to make you a criminal.
The public prosecutor's office is considering whether to press charges against an activist from the ZSP for supposedly threatening to kill the president of Warsaw. This is the latest in a string of attempted repression and intimidation tactics used by capital and the state against those fighting their power. The prosecutor has already bothered this same comrade a few times a year on other matters, even more ridiculous and not directly related to his activity.
The subject of the investigation relates to a discussion on Facebook related to the decision of the city to cut down the trees in Krasinski Garden in Warsaw, called “revitalization” of the park. This decision was highly unpopular and controversial; it turned out that the city awarded many contracts to one company to rid the city of thousands of trees. Somebody wrote: ”after the revitalization of Krasinski Garden, let's revitalize the city office, using the same methods ;)”. Another person replied that she is going to look for blade sharpeners. That's when our comrade joked “A lumberjack competition in City Hall – that would be something! I had this dream that I had the chopped off head of HGW (the president) in my hand and I was showing it to the crowd outside the palace”.
Despite the fact that the internet is full of comments of all sort about the increasingly despised president, the city singled our comrade out and informed the public prosecutor's office. This was quite a deliberate reaction to the internet indiscretion of our friend, who is well known to all the president's men and women for years of action taken against them.
Although it is not known if the prosecutor will really press charges, the story broke in the media on March 28 and there was an immediate outbreak of solidarity and ridicule of the politicians. Many comments label this an Orwellian scenario, others take it as a good occasion to attack the unpopular group in power in City Hall. A Facebook event called “Festival of Dreams” about the president was set up where hundreds of people have shared their dreams, letting the city know what people think about them. Stories, articles and dozens of cartoons started circulating.
In these circumstances, rather than this being a bad advertisement for our organization, it seems that the politicians have just drawn more anger against them.
Prosecution, Hypocrisy and Repression
Fueling the outbreak of sympathy with our comrade is widespread disgust at how the city is run and how the state criminalizes some, while the real criminals are untouchable.
People can see what is happening very clearly. Many references were made to our deceased friend, Jolanta Brzeska, burned alive in the forest a couple of years ago. Fighting with a landlord who wanted to clear the building for speculative purposes, she was the last tenant in the building. She was murdered in a brutal way, yet the prosecutor's office didn't even want to question the main suspect, a real estate investor with connections. The police had “no clues”, (although they ignored various witnesses) and the courts ordered the murdered woman's debts on her daughter – a single mother with low income.
Other references were made to arsonists in one neighbourhood where ZSP is active and the fact that the police do nothing to stop the fires which coincide with the city and speculators' desire to level the old neighbourhood to the ground and get rid of all the tenants. During the night before the story about our comrade broke, 2 people were burned to death. Still, nothing is done to protect public safety... except for the patrols made by ZSP, which cannot be in all places. The danger still exists.
Yet others remind of dozens of corruption affairs involving local politicians, which disappeared very quickly, without any consequences.
When people see this all, they know that the system of prosecution is a selective system, applied against the poor, political enemies and a few unfortunates, but sparing all those with money or power. As anarchists, we do not believe in notions of justice through state institutions in general, but we recognize that where the application of this so-called justice is so uneven, there is widespread social discontent and distrust of what the state does. In such a situation, many people express their anger in even quite violent terms. Thus, many could identify which what the comrade said, more than with the president.
The Limits of Virtual Protest
It needs to be pointed out that this situation grew out of a growing culture of launching protests on Facebook. Thousands of people seem to be online everyday, complaining about what is going wrong. The protest that led to the lumberjack chat had to do with cutting down trees in a (formerly) beautiful park. People were furious – on Facebook. In reality, few people came out to protest, never mind the good old-fashioned methods like camping out of the trees (which successfully saved the area in Rospuda some years ago).
The trees were cut. Many birds lost their homes, dead owls began appearing in the park, the city lost another beautiful place to the Warsaw Chainsaw Lunatic (the president). Many such destructive acts are carried out in our city, on public funds, on EU funds, benefitting a few private businesses and taking away places and resources for the people.
Thousands of people screaming in protest – on Facebook. But that doesn't count for shit. It is giving people a false sense of activism and community, because they feel discouraged and do not believe that their real protests can be heard. This is a result of many years of beating people down, so they have no self-confidence.
Now the internet is screaming again, about cuts to the public transport system. The cuts are not reasonable, often affecting very busy bus lines. All this comes after the city introduced steep increases in the price of tickets – claiming it was “necessary” to improve service. But unless people get out on the streets more, nothing will happen. We can point out that while the raise of ticket prices was being discussed in the city and just after the decision, ZSP was literally the only organization in Warsaw to do anything.
We are all very happy that so many internet activists have defended our comrade. The show of solidarity was really encouraging. But, in the end, we all have to get ourselves organized, promote revolutionary goals and get into the street – not just have revolutionary thoughts on the internet.
We of course support our comrade against this stupid attempt at repression and declare to the City that we are permanently at war with its anti-social policies. Nothing you can do will stop us.
Until we are rid of all of you – politicians, speculators, capitalists and prosecutors – the struggle continues.
If anybody reads Polish, it is worth checking out the Festival of Dreams: http://warszawa.gazeta.pl/warszawa/1,34862,13653566,Festiwal_snow_o_Hann... or http://www.facebook.com/events/353507401434744/?fref=ts