People arrested following Gniezno pride march

Nine men were detained by the police following Saturday’s pride march in the western central Polish city of Gniezno, deputy inspector Iwona Liszczyńska reported.

Some of the detainees were accused of disturbing a public gathering and violating police officer’s bodily integrity.

The first ever pride march in Gniezno’s history took place under the “Gniezno – the first capital of equality” motto – a reference to the fact that the city was the first historical capital of Polish statehood. Beyond Gniezno citizens, residents of Poznań, Koszalin, Toruń and Bydgoszcz also joined the march that gathered as many as 400 people.

A countermarch of around 500 individuals formed and blocked the pride march’s way at the end of the event.

“Having anticipated that the counter-demonstrators changed positions and started blocking the previously specified pride march’s route, together with the city mayor the police we decided to negotiate with the countermarch so that its participants would let the pride march-goers pass,” said officer Liszczyńska.

However, “those people were disinclined to talk with the police and not only remained reactionless but even produced aggressive behaviour by throwing bottles, eggs and other objects at the police officers. Because of that, after these individuals had been asked to behave according to law, the police decided to fire warning shots from smoothbore firearms,” stressed the police officer.

“Moreover, one of the detained men had intoxicants on him, therefore he will be charged with violating the anti-drug law,” said officer Liszczyńska, adding that “some of the detainees need to wait till [the morning of April 14] due to being under influence of alcohol.”

On the week preceding the pride march, mayor Tomasz Budasz of the Civic Platform (PO), stressed that he had banned all dozen gatherings planned for Saturday, pointing to the fact that all of the organisers planned the events to take place in the downtown area simultaneously. The mayor supported his decision saying that “it should be assumed that representatives of social ideas opposed to one another, such as LGBT supporters and far-right groups, and they could encounter one another in one space.”

The mayor’s decision was challenged by the banned events’ organisers. On Thursday the Poznań court decided that most of the events can take place, including the pride march.