Tusk covets the power of the police baton

The brute force against farmer protests in Poland is seen as an attempt to strip citizens of their right to express their views peacefully and safely on the streets through legal demonstrations, writes political commentator Michał Karnowski

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Michał Karnowski
Police officers detain a man during the farmers' protest in Warsaw, Poland, on Wednesday March 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)

As I was returning to Warsaw the night before yesterday’s farmers’ protests, all potential entry roads, even those far from the city, were manned by the police with the aim of stopping agricultural vehicles.

Such a level of mobilization had not been seen for years, specifically since the Independence Marches of 2012-2014, which were also met with brute force and provocations. The scenario unfolded similarly to those practiced during that period, with police brutality leading to riots and attacks on protesters.

Police officers armed with smoothbore weapons, unseen at such events since 2015, were deployed. Crowd dispersal gases were used extensively, a tactic once rumored to have been used during a demonstration under the Law and Justice (PiS) administration, which led to the media outcry about the “moral end of power.”

Simultaneously, a distasteful propaganda machine kicked into gear. The government labeled farmers as “criminals,” inciting against them through propagandistic media, trivializing their demands and representation. By employing lies and manipulations, there’s an attempt to shift the blame for the economically detrimental Green Deal, concocted by the Left and Donald Tusk’s European People’s Party, onto the pro-Polish former government which had staunchly opposed these “madnesses.”

The previous government had also dared to stand up to Brussels by banning the import of certain food products from Ukraine, building a regional alliance of states around this issue.

The actions against the protests represent a clear attempt to shift a significant boundary in our public life, aiming to deprive Poles of the ability to express their views peacefully and safely in the street through legal demonstrations. This is the essence of Wednesday’s events. After eight years of opposition madness during the PiS era, which was always protected by the police (even when laws were blatantly broken), the public’s shock is justified.

Not for decades has anyone held more power in Poland than Donald Tusk. He possesses not just political power but almost the full spectrum of media, academic, judicial, and business influence, along with unconditional support from foreign powers that see him as a convenient proxy. Yet, he apparently seeks even more power, the kind that comes from a police baton, aiming for absolute control and the intimidation of Poles as key to achieving this goal.

We shouldn’t be too surprised if the objective is to take away our sovereignty and independence, as German projects for centralizing Europe suggest.

This is the significance of the police batons used today, the shots fired, and the stench of police gases sprayed against peacefully and legally protesting farmers.

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