The United States ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, has apologised to people turned away from the embassy in Warsaw after bringing flowers and candles for George Floyd, describing it as a “misunderstanding”.
Her apology follows an incident yesterday, when police sent away people who had gathered in front of the US embassy to pay tribute to Floyd, whose murder during a police intervention in Minneapolis had led to days of protest and unrest in the United States. The police stated that the embassy did not want any flowers and candles in front of its building.
Police in Warsaw are stopping people from leaving tributes to #GeorgeFloyd outside the US embassy, saying that the embassy itself requested this.
Candles left there previously have been cleared away. The embassy has not commented https://t.co/sDe19m8DDD
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) June 2, 2020
Warsaw locals had been visiting the embassy placing candles and flowers to create a shrine, including a poster bearing Floyd’s image.
“We came to the embassy as private citizens to commemorate George Floyd, a victim of police murder,” said Konrad Wiślicz-Węgrowski, spokesman of the Warsaw branch of left-wing party Together (Razem), quoted by Gazeta Wyborcza. He said that when he arrived the flowers and candles that were placed there the day before had all disappeared.
Another member from the Razem party commented that the policeman guarding the embassy had refused to let Wiślicz-Węgrowski and his companions leave candles, warning that they could be fined for littering.
Today, Georgette Mosbacher apologised on Twitter for the “misunderstanding”, expressing her gratitude for “the outpouring of support in [George Floyd’s] memory”. The ambassador added that the embassy’s staff were attempting to “reach out to those affected personally to apologise”.
I am so sorry that anyone was turned away from the Embassy with flowers and candles for George Floyd – there was a misunderstanding. I am so grateful for the outpouring of support for his memory.
— Georgette Mosbacher (@USAmbPoland) June 3, 2020
The US Embassy in Warsaw also confirmed that peaceful demonstration and placing of candles and flowers should be allowed, noting its appreciation of people who had come to pay their respects, and emphasising that it shared their grief over a “horrific tragedy”.
Meanwhile, a monument to Tadeusz Kościuszko, a hero of the Polish and US struggles for independence, was last night defaced in Warsaw, with the slogan “Black Lives Matter” written on it. The monument is a replica of the statue in Washington, DC, which was also vandalised during the current wave of unrest.
Dziś w nocy zdewastowano warszawski pomnik Kościuszki. Napis nawiązuje do dramatycznych wydarzeń w #USA, a stołeczny monument jest wierną repliką tego, który stoi nieopodal @WhiteHouse w Waszyngtonie. Więcej na portalu @PolsatNewsPL i na naszej antenie. #MuremZaKościuszką pic.twitter.com/R8YND9CASA
— Dawid Styś (@DawidStys) June 3, 2020
Warsaw mayor and presidential candidate Rafał Trzaskowski condemned the vandalism and said that he had ordered that the monument be cleaned. The police said it is looking into the matter, reports Onet.
Main image credit: Jedrzej Nowicki/Agencja Gazeta