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Polish Americans to stage demos over plan to remove Jersey City statue

PR dla Zagranicy
Grzegorz Siwicki 10.05.2018 11:14
Poles living in America plan to stage a series of demonstrations in defence of a statue in Jersey City that honours Poles massacred by the Soviets in World War II, according to reports.
The Katyn Massacre monument in Jersey CityThe Katyn Massacre monument in Jersey CityPhoto: Colin Knowles [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The protests are expected to be attended by Polish Americans living on the East Coast of the United States, including children from a Polish school in Jersey City, public broadcaster Polish Radio reported.

The planned demonstrations come amid a trans-Atlantic spat over plans to remove the statue in order to redevelop a public square in Jersey City that has been the monument's home for 27 years.

The first of the protests, on Friday at 7 pm local time, is designed to disprove claims that the monument is too drastic to stand at a site frequented by families with children, Polish Radio reported, citing organisers.

Sculpted by Polish-American artist Andrzej Pitynski and unveiled in June 1991, the monument features a 10-metre-tall bronze figure of a soldier — who has been gagged and bound and impaled by a bayonetted rifle — mounted on top of a granite base containing soil from the Katyn Forest in western Russia where thousands of Poles were murdered by Soviet secret police during World War II.

Around 22,000 Polish prisoners of war were killed with shots to the back of the head in the spring of 1940 on orders from top Soviet authorities in what came to be known as the Katyn Massacre.

History lesson, poems and candles

"There will be a history lesson and poems, and then young people will light candles to commemorate all those who lost their lives in the Katyn Massacre," said Bogusława Huang, a protest organiser who works as a teacher at the Józef Piłsudski Polish Supplementary School in Jersey City.

Huang is also a member of a group called the Katyn Monument Committee, which -- together with a network of groups linked to the conservative Polish weekly Gazeta Polska, and broadcaster Radio Maryja, in addition to veterans' organisations and various Polish American organisations -- is holding another protest in Jersey City, on Saturday at 1 pm local time.

The Saturday demonstration will start outside City Hall and participants will then walk to where the statue stands at Exchange Place in Jersey City, just across the Hudson River from New York City.

On Sunday, at 3 pm local time, yet another demonstration will be staged in defence of the monument, according to Polish Radio. Organised by Polish American lawyer Sławomir Plata, it will be attended by both Poles living in Jersey City and busloads of Polish Americans from other cities in the state of New Jersey and from New York City, the Polish public broadcaster said.

Members of the Polish community in the United States and officials in Warsaw protested after Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop last month announced that the statue would be put in storage while the space is converted into a park.

Fulop has since signalled he wants dialogue amid the row over the monument, according to reports.


Source: Polish Radio

tags: Jersey City
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