Clashes at Poland’s Independence Day far-right march

Far-right supporters in Poland clashed fiercely with police Wednesday during an annual Independence Day march attended by thousands in Warsaw that went ahead despite a ban on public gatherings due to the pandemic.

Many participants turned up in cars and on motorbikes to observe social distancing. But others marched on foot, and some threw firecrackers at police in riot gear and into windows with LGBT rainbow flags or signs of anti-government sentiment. An apartment went on fire, but firefighters put it out. No one was hurt.

There were no immediate reports of arrests or injuries, though ambulances were heard approaching the scene of the repeated clashes.

Warsaw authorities had banned the march, which a court also declared illegal, citing the ban on gatherings of over five people.

The march came at a time when thousands of Poles have been holding daily nationwide protests against the right-wing government that backed the tightening of an already strict abortion law last month.

Organized by far-right groups, massive Independence Day marches have often led to clashes with leftwing groups and the police.

The Nov. 11 national holiday marks Poland’s regaining of sovereignty after World War I. The country’s conservative government promotes the event.

Other Independence Day observances on Wednesday included President Andrzej Duda and other leaders attending a Catholic Mass in Warsaw and a ceremonial changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.