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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Warsaw. Youth Climate Strike – September 2021. Police detained a 14-year-old girl

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In the center of Warsaw and twenty other cities, the Youth Climate Strike took place on Friday. Youth warned against the effects of climate change and demanded a “fair energy transition”. The Warsaw police detained a 14-year-old girl who painted a star on the parking meter with a proofreader. As MP Franek Sterczewski, who witnessed the intervention, points out in an interview with tvnwarszawa.pl, the painting could be easily erased, and the situation only unnecessarily exposed the child to stress.

The course of the strike in the capital was reported by the reporter of tvnwarszawa.pl Mateusz Szmelter. – The participants gather in the street in front of the National Theater. More and more groups are constantly joining – he said at 11 am. Then they walked along Senatorska and Krakowskie Przedmieście streets in front of the Presidential Palace, and finally headed to Plac Bankowy.

– The effects of the crisis are having different effects. They affect us as an inhabitant of Warsaw, an inhabitant of Poland, or an inhabitant of the planet. For global warming, it doesn’t matter what financial status, age, opinion or skin color you are. That is why we must unite together and start acting – one of the participants of the strike in the capital appealed to the gathered people. – Today, together we will once again show how important our future is to us – emphasized another striker.


The organizers of the strike argued that the climate crisis is a crisis of human rights and a crisis of the community. – Only hand in hand can we make our common future safe, green and fair – they emphasized. – We demand an immediate, just energy transformation – they appealed.

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The strike also took place in 20 other large Polish cities. Several hundred people gathered, among others, on the streets of Wrocław, Poznań, Łódź, Cieszyn, Olsztyn, Katowice, Białystok, Kraków and Rzeszów. Similar events were also held around the world. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg took part in Friday’s protest in Berlin.

The police detained a 14-year-old girl

In the afternoon, member of the Civic Coalition Franek Sterczewski informed that a 14-year-old was arrested during the protest. “For 2 hours, 14-year-old Mela has been detained at the police station in Zakroczymska, because she used a proofreader to draw a star on the parking machine, which can be scratched off with her fingernail. Absurd!” – he wrote on Twitter.

In an interview with tvnwarszawa.pl, he reported in detail what the police intervention against the 14-year-old looked like: – Today, as every year, I took part in a youth demonstration to demand energy transformation and, as a deputy, pay attention to the abuses of the police, which are more and more frequent during demonstrations . At one point, young people ran up to me who said that the police had taken a young person to the police car and taken him to the police station in Zakroczymska.

The MP went there with a group of people. As he says, the police station was surrounded by a cordon of police blocking the entrance, but he was allowed inside. In his opinion, the forces involved were completely disproportionate to the number of people who came to the counter-demonstration.

– According to the police, the 14-year-old committed an act of vandalism in which she drew an asterisk on the parking machine in front of the town hall. I was in front of this parking meter before and checked what it looks like – the unfinished asterisk could be erased with a fingernail, it was not any damage to property. It does not fall under the paragraph, it was not offensive – described the deputy. – They explained that the girl was reported by a passer-by and they were obliged to check it and take her to the police station. This is absurd because they haven’t even checked if there was any wrongdoing. They did not see that this asterisk could be easily erased, they only assumed that the machine had been permanently damaged and that it was the basis for stopping it – he said.

The police also explained to us the reasons for the intervention against the girl. – The 14-year-old was taken to the police station only because a witness approached the policemen securing the demonstration, the person who said that the young person was drawing something on the parking meter. When the policemen approached her, she actually put some inscriptions on her and was arrested and taken to the police station. There she waited for her legal guardians, she was taken by them. Activities with her will be performed at a later date – Marta Gierlicka from the Warsaw Police Headquarters told us. She also added that if someone reports a misconduct to the police, they must react and intervene.

MP: Police are not prepared to deal with young people or protesters

However, according to the deputy, the matter could have been dealt with differently: – You could use this situation as a lesson in civic attitude, explain to the girl that you cannot paint in the parking lot, but the police decided to use force. When I met Mela at the police station she was crying, stressed out. This situation made no sense at all: it was her first contact with the police and it could have caused a trauma right away. Her mom had to take unnecessary breaks from work to come pick her up. The police cordon was unnecessary. And the court, because the police want to take the case to court for it to be examined. In my opinion, Mela can be threatened at most with a reprimand, because – as I explained – it was not destroyed – argued Sterczewski.

He also noted that the police were not prepared to deal with young people or with protesters. – We have seen what acts of aggression took place during the women’s strikes last year with the use of telescopic batons or tear gas. And here I had an example of how the officers delegated to deal with minors deal with – we were sitting with Mela in chairs, and three large policemen stood above us. They had no ill will – they tried to calm her down, explained the situation to her, asked how she was learning, but the mere fact that they stood over us already caused fear and an atmosphere of oppression in her. You can see that they are not trained and do not know that it is better to sit down, have eye contact at the same level, that body language is important. They are not always ill-willed, but they are simply not prepared for such tasks. This is a symptom of the systemic problem of the uniformed services – concluded Sterczewski.

Main photo source: Mateusz Szmelter / tvnwarszawa.pl

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