Paweł Adamowicz, popular mayor of the Polish city of Gdańsk, died earlier in the day (Jan. 14) from injuries sustained during a knife attack the night before. A man attacked Adamowicz while the mayor was on stage for the grand finale of the Christmas Charity Grand Orchestra (Wielka Orkiestra wiątecznej Pomocy), a large annual fundraiser for children's hospital equipment. The investigation is still ongoing and the motive is not yet clear, but the attack at the white weapon has a political connotation.
Adamowicz was mayor of Gdańsk for two decades and was recently re-elected. He was an independent candidate but was a former member of the Centrist Civic Platform, currently the largest opposition party in Poland. He was also part of the underground clandestine movement of Poland during the communist period. Adamowicz was a liberal statesman, expressing support for minorities, refugees and LGBT rights. The charity event itself has become politicized in recent years. Jurek Owsiak, president and founder of the organizing foundation, is a virulent critic of the conservative Law and Justice government and a frequent target of right-wing hatred.
The alleged perpetrator, aged 27 and identified as "Stefan W." according to Polish law, was recently released from prison where he was serving time for a series of robberies in a bank. During the attack, he allegedly screamed that the civic platform had falsely imprisoned him. "That's why Adamowicz just died," he said, according to reports in the media. These also suggest that he was able to go on stage in usurp the identity of a member of the press. The security of the event caught him, but he had time to stab Adamowicz several times, with a 5.7-inch (14.5 cm) blade. The man is now in the custody of the prosecutor and will be evaluated in a psychiatric facility, the investigators said (link in Polish) He denies the charges.
Several public figures later suggested that the attack resulted from Poland's stormy political atmosphere. Wojciech Szczurek, mayor of the neighboring city of Gdynia, m said (link in Polish) that a "climate of political hatred and growing divisions" has long been part of the reality of Poland. "Today's incredible dramatic event strongly shows where it led us."
Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, deputy mayor of Adamowicz, asked that the stab wounds not be politicized. "We do not know what motivated this person to attack, but I ask, implore, eliminate the aggression of our everyday life, politics, we can not intensify the violence," he said. -she m said (link in Polish) "I ask that we avoid using this difficult situation for political or ideological purposes," she said. Demonstrations against political hatred (link in Polish) are already underway throughout Poland.
Every year, on a winter weekend, thousands of volunteers take to the streets of Poland and raise funds for the Big Orchestra of Christmas Charity, in addition to countless online auctions. This year was the 27th fundraiser. $ 25 million starting Monday, and has collected more than 260 million dollars (1 billion Polish zlotys) over the years. Donors receive special heart-shaped stickers, which people traditionally wear on their winter coats. At the end of the journey, many Polish cities celebrate with a concert and a usual light show at 8 pm local time. The stabbing took place during the climactic event.
A few days before the attack, a Polish state-run television channel broadcast a clay clip of the former mayor of Warsaw, member of Civic Platform, creating a puppet-shaped Owsiak . The Owsiak puppet then goes around the money in giant bags. Some of the tickets are emblazoned with a star of David (link in Polish), an anti-Semitic whistle. The head of the government news agency later tweeted Anti-Semitism had no place on the airwaves of the station and there would be "serious consequences" for those in charge. On January 14, Owsiak announced that he would step down as head of the foundation. "Perhaps those who have had incredible room for maneuver in Poland and are allowed to do so will relax" said Owsiak (Polish link), known for his slang and colloquialisms.