Rioters vandalise statue of Polish-US hero Tadeusz Kościuszko as violent protests erupt across America
The Tadeusz Kościuszko monument in Washington DC was vandalized last night in rioting that has engulfed the United States after the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.
The plinth, which stands in front of the White House in Lafayette Park, was graffitied with vulgar attacks against President Trump and anti-racist slogans.
The Polish ambassador in Washington Piotr Wilczek has called on the White House and the National Parks Service to restore the monument quickly to its original state.
“I am disgusted and appalled by the acts of vandalism committed against the statue of Thaddeus Kościuszko in DC, a hero who fought for the independence of both the US and Poland,” he wrote on Twitter.
Former US Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker shared Wilczek’s outrage, posting on Twitter that he “could not agree more with @AmbWilczek.”
The monument of Tadeusz Kościuszko was erected in Washington in 1910. Kościuszko, who is described as a hero of two nations, took part in the American Revolutionary War in 1776-77 .
On his return to Poland, he lead a rebellion against Tsarist Russia, which failed and lead to the Third Partition of Poland.
Kościuszko also fought for the rights of national and racial minorities. In his will, he donated a portion of his estate to free black slaves belonging to Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States. However, Jefferson did not fulfil Kościuszko’s testament.
Kościuszko also bequeathed sums for the education of freed Afro-American slaves to enable them to function normally in society. According to many historians, he was ahead of his time with this will.
The vandalisation of the monument occurred when several thousand people protested in front of the White House last night despite a curfew imposed by the city mayor.
The gathering quickly escalated from demonstrations to clashes with police. Protestors set buildings on fire, looted shops and threw stones and bottles at police.
Stores across the city closed early on Sunday, with some boarding up windows.
Cars were set on fire in front of the White House. The Episcopal Church of St. John was also torched, though fire fighters soon got the blaze under control.
The lights that usually illuminate the White House at night were turned off.
The sound of gunfire could be heard in the centre of Washington. Media reports say that police used rubber bullet against protestors
US media reported that President Trump and his family spent part of the night in a secure bunker under the White House.
The rioting in the US capital is part of wider disturbances which have been taking place across the country for six days since Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was filmed suffocating George Floyd with his knee.
The tragedy unfolded on 25 May after police received a report that forty-six-year-old African-American had used a counterfeit twenty-dollar note to pay for a pack of cigarettes.
After being placed in a police car, Derek Chauvin and other officers removed Floyd from the car whereupon he fell on the ground.
Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck, pinning him to the ground. Whilst in this position, Floyd said “I can’t breathe.”
After around six minutes, Floyd fell silent and stopped responding. After eight minutes and forty-six seconds, Chauvin removed his knee from Floyd’s neck.
He was taken to hospital and pronounced dead around an hour later.
Forty-four-year-old Derek Chauvin worked for the Minneapolis police for nineteen years, during which time seventeen complaints were filed against him.
Chauvin was arrested on 29 May and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.