WARSAW — The mayor of Gdansk, Poland, a number one liberal critic of the populist, right-wing nationwide authorities, died on Monday after being stabbed at a public charity live performance Sunday night time, the minister of well being informed reporters.
Mayor Pawel Adamowicz, 53, the mayor of the northern port metropolis since 1998, was often called a supporter of homosexual rights, and he had campaigned for the rights of immigrants in a rustic whose governing occasion has leaned closely on anti-immigrant rhetoric.
“It was impossible to win against everything that had happened to him,” Lukasz Szumowski, the well being minister, stated of the stabbing. “God rest his soul.”
The assault shocked a nation that’s more and more divided politically. Tens of hundreds of Poles joined rallies everywhere in the nation on Monday night to sentence violence and hate speech.
Police officers stated the assailant was arrested at the scene, and described him as a 27-year-old, mentally disturbed man with a historical past of violence and no clear political motive.
The assault passed off at the nation’s largest charity occasion, held yearly to boost cash for medical tools. It was simply earlier than eight p.m. Sunday, and tens of hundreds of individuals had gathered for a live performance to advertise the charity.
A countdown had begun to sign the beginning of an extravagant laser mild present referred to as “Light to the Sky.” One second earlier than fireworks have been set to blow up, a younger man burst onto the stage and stabbed Mr. Adamowicz a number of occasions, together with within the coronary heart.
The assailant then circled the rostrum waving a black knife and screamed that he had been thrown in jail below Civic Platform, the political occasion to which the liberal mayor as soon as belonged.
“That’s why I killed Adamowicz,” the person shouted.
Mr. Adamowicz’s accidents included “a deep wound to the heart, a wound to diaphragm and other injuries of internal organs,” docs at Medical University of Gdansk stated. Despite their efforts to save lots of him, he died Monday afternoon.
As the town went into mourning, Poland grappled with the query of whether or not the poisonous and aggressive tone of the nation’s political debate may have instigated the assault.
The conservative governing occasion was fast to sentence the assault.
“We usually disagree with Mr. Mayor Pawel Adamowicz when it comes to political views on how to lead Poland, but today we are with him and his loved ones unconditionally, as are — I hope — all of our compatriots,” President Andrzej Duda wrote on Twitter after the attack.
The government, of which Mr. Adamowicz was a fierce critic, dispatched a plane to London to fly the mayor’s wife back to Gdansk.
Aleksandra Skorupka-Kaczmarek, a deputy mayor of Gdansk, said Monday morning that Mr. Adamowicz’s friends and family were struggling to understand what had happened.
“We’re all asking the question of how one can attack an innocent man,” she said. “Let’s eliminate the aggression from our public life, political life. Let’s not escalate this violence. Please, don’t use this tragedy for political and ideological ends.”
After the attack, the police arrested a man who had threatened on Twitter the mayors of two other Polish cities, Wroclaw and Poznan. Recent elections have shown a deep and widening political divide between voters in rural areas and small towns, who largely support the governing Law and Justice party, and those in larger cities, who mostly oppose the government.
Ahead of local elections last October, All-Polish Youth, a far-right organization, issued fake death certificates for 11 liberal politicians, mostly associated with Civic Platform, including Mr. Adamowicz. The prosecutor’s office refused to investigate the initiative, calling it “an expression of opinion,” not “incitement of hatred.”
Mr. Adamowicz opposed that decision, and said just last week: “This wasn’t a regular expression of opinion; they truly crossed the line. I’m not going to leave it like this.”
Residents of Gdansk, Warsaw and other Polish cities held rallies Monday evening to express their sadness not just over the death of Mr. Adamowicz, but the escalating political conflict in Poland. Many people brought candles. Some came with banners that read: “Stop the hatred” and “Stop the violence.”
More rallies were planned for Tuesday.
The charity event on Sunday is Poland’s biggest annual fund-raiser, organized since 1993 by the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity. Over the years, the organization has raised about $266 million to provide medical equipment to Poland’s underfunded hospitals.
“This is a wonderful time of spreading good,” Mr. Adamowicz said moments before he was attacked. “You are all wonderful. Gdansk is the most amazing city.”
After accusations that the event had insufficient security, the president of the foundation, Jerzy Owsiak, resigned.
“This hatred, which is deep-seated in people, exploded in an extreme way,” Mr. Owsiak, a fierce critic of the governing party and a frequent object of attacks from right-wing politicians, told reporters. “I’ve been fighting those who threaten me for 25 years. Poland’s justice system and police are completely helpless.”
Police officials said that the suspect had recently been released from prison, after serving over five years for several bank robberies. They said the man, identified only as Stefan W., had gained access to the stage with a media badge, but it was not clear where he got it.
Mr. Adamowicz, who is survived by his wife, Magdalena, and two daughters, preached the value of tolerance and held up his city as a progressive model of integrating immigrants. He participated in Gay Pride events in Gdansk and expressed solidarity with the city’s Jewish community after stone-throwing vandals broke windows in a local synagogue.
Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, called Mr. Adamowicz “a true friend of the Jewish community” in a condolence statement.
“Mayor Adamowicz was a leading voice of opposition against far-right extremism,” Mr. Lauder said. “This was an attack not just on the mayor, but on the very value of tolerance.”
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