Polish activist “Grandma Kate” to again face trial for attacking police

An activist widely known as “Babcia Kasia” (“Grandma Kate”), who has become a common sight at protests in support of women’s and LGBT rights, is again to face trial for allegedly attacking police. It is the latest in a series of similar indictments against her, though she is yet to receive a binding conviction.

The latest case relates to events that took place on 11 November 2021 during the annual nationalist Independence March in Warsaw. The event, organised by three far-right groups, draws tens of thousands of participants but also anti-fascist counterprotesters.

Among them last year was Babcia Kasia, who is named only as Katarzyna A. under Polish privacy law. She was part of a group that gathered at Dmowski Roundabout, where the march begins, and was pictured being forcibly removed by police.

One of her fellow protesters, Wojciech Kinasiewicz of Citizens of the Republic (Obywatele RP), told TVN24 at the time that police had acted in an “exceptionally brutal” manner, including verbally abusing the protesters as well as physically removing them.

A spokesman for Warsaw police, Sylwester Marczak, said that for safety reasons they had asked the group to move 100 metres away from the march. After the protesters refused, “a decision was made to evacuate these people from the roundabout”.

Police accused Katarzyna A. of physically attacking and spitting at them, as well as shouting vulgar abuse. Afterwards, even one leading left-wing MP, Anna-Maria Żukowska, called on people “not to make a hero out of someone who is aggressive, primitively insults and beats people”.

Today, the district prosecutor’s office in Warsaw announced that it has indicted Katarzyna A. for the crimes of violating the bodily integrity of a police officer (a crime that carries a prison sentence of up to three years) and insulting an officer. They said she had pushed a policewoman and tried to grab her camera.

Prosecutors have previously issued at least 12 indictments for similar offences against Katarzyna A. over her actions towards police at previous protests. Two were filed in February this year, reported TVP Info, and another in November last year, according to the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

So far, however, Katarzyna A. has not received a legally binding conviction for any offence. Last October, a judge found her guilty of attacking police under an expedited legal process, but Katarzyna A. used her right to contest that decision and demand a full trial, which is yet to take place.

Katarzyna A. also won a legal battle in December, when the Supreme Court rejected a final appeal by prosecutors against a court ruling that had acquitted her of attacking police at a protest last April.

The court found that police had made “disproportionate use of coercive measures” at the “peacefully conducted” protest. It also ruled that the actions of Katarzyna A. herself, which were shown in video evidence, had not constituted a threat, reported Wirtualna Polska.

“In the peaceful situation of a spontaneous assembly, public authorities should show a certain degree of tolerance so that the freedom of assembly guaranteed in the constitution does not lose its essence,” said judge Marek Pietruszyński.

Babcia Kasia continues to be held in high esteem by many who support the causes that she fights for. Last week, she was named one of the “Superheroines of the Year” by Wysokie Obcasy, a magazine aimed at women that is published by leading liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza.

Main image credit: Dawid Zuchowicz / Agencja Gazeta

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