‘Kosciuszko wrong target for frustration’: Fdn. on BLM vandalisation of statue

Following the vandalisation of Tadeusz Kościuszko memorial during the Sunday protests in Washington DC, USA, the Kosciuszko Foundation has expressed its understanding “for the pain of the African American community,” but argued that “Kościuszko was the wrong target for this frustration.” It also called on Americans “to learn more about Kosciuszko's vision of tolerance.”

Statue of Polish-US hero vandalised by BLM protesters

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The memorial was vandalised by some individuals who were among the crowds protesting against police brutality and race-based violence. The Kościuszko memorial was sprayed with slogans criticising racism, Black Lives Matter (BLM) tags and invectives targeted against US President Donald Trump.

The countrywide protests were triggered by the death of Afro-American George Floyd on May 25. The 46-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest while being restrained by Minneapolis police, the official post-mortem examination found. The police were called by shop staff where Mr Floyd was reported paying counterfeit USD 20 bill for a package of cigarettes.

The NYC-based Kosciuszko Foundation, which is a charitable foundation established in 1923 with the purpose of funding programs that promote Polish-American intellectual and artistic exchange, has joined the international initiative for restoration of the monument. It has also published a statement in which it stressed that “Kosciuszko was the wrong target” for the frustration of the African American community.

In the official statement signed by its Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and President and Executive Director, the foundation urged “all Americans to learn more about Kosciuszko's vision of tolerance” as he “dedicated his salary as a General from the American Revolution for the emancipation and education of enslaved Africans.”

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“He asked that his money be used to buy land, livestock and farming tools for liberated slaves so that they could make their own living as free citizens of the United States. He knew that Black Lives Matter. Respectful of Kosciuszko's efforts, Booker T. Washington wrote in his memoirs, ‘When I visited the tomb of Kosciuszko [in Krakow] I placed a rose on it in the name of my race.’”

Booker Taliaferro Washington was a black American educator, author, orator, and adviser to multiple presidents of the United States. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African American community and of the contemporary black elite.

“When Native Americans learned that Kosciuszko stood up for their rights, chief Little Turtle presented him with an honorary peace pipe. When Jews saw that Kosciuszko stood up for their rights, Berek Joselewicz started a Jewish cavalry to join the Polish hero and called him ‘a messenger from God.’ And when Kosciuszko started an uprising in Poland to free enslaved White serfs, a Black man from Haiti joined the cause as his aide de camp,” the statement reads.

“Kosciuszko was a man ahead of his time. That's why the Kosciuszko Foundation will contribute to the cleansing of the Statue in Lafayette Park… Kosciuszko led by setting an example that we should all try to follow,” the foundation declared.

Restoring the statue

Another NYC-based organisation that joined the cause of restoring the statue is the New York-based Polish Slavic Federal Credit Union.

Polish President Andrzej Duda, having discussed the matter with the president of the Polish Slavic Federal Credit Union, expressed his gratitude to the Polish-American community for initiating the memorial's restoration.

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Also Warsaw Mayor and the Civic Coalition (KO) presidential hopeful Rafał Trzaskowski has declared the city's help in restoring the memorial via a Monday tweet. Mr Trzaskowski wrote on Twitter that he also discussed the matter with US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher.

Tadeusz Kościuszko (February 4 or 12, 1746 – October 15, 1817) was a Polish–Lithuanian military leader proclaimed a national hero in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and the US. Kosciuszko fought in Poland's struggles against Russia and Prussia, and on the American side in the American Revolutionary War.

As Supreme Commander of the Polish National Armed Forces, he led the 1794 Kosciuszko Uprising. Unfortunately, the uprising failed and Poland was ultimately partitioned by Russia, Prussia and Austria. The country regained its independence in 1918.