‘Hatred is becoming more visible’: shocked Gdańsk mourns slain mayor (The Guardian)

Paweł Adamowicz. Photograph: European Union / Nuno Rodrigues via Flickr

The people of Gdańsk are coming to terms with the death of their mayor, Paweł Adamowicz, who was stabbed on stage at a charity concert in front of thousands of people on Sunday. A public appeal led to crowds of people queueing for hours to donate blood to save their mayor, but he was pronounced dead on Monday afternoon.

After the announcement of the mayor’s death on Monday, thousands of people gathered at the statue of Neptune in the city’s Long Market, also home to city hall, where Adamowicz served for more than 20 years. With tears running down people’s faces, the crowd stood motionless as they listened to an a capella version of Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence.

This was silence with a purpose – not only to mourn, but to protest against an increasing prevalence of hate speech in Polish public discourse that Adamowicz had attempted to confront. A staunch defender of migrants and refugees and of LGBT rights, he had marketed Gdańsk as a liberal enclave, a city in open defiance of the xenophobic nationalism promoted by Poland’s rightwing Law and Justice party (PiS), which has governed since 2015.

My report from Gdańsk for the Guardian can be found here.

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