[ 29. May 2010 ]

What happened on May 23, 2010?

police murderer

The 36 year-old Maxwell Itoya was shot dead in Warsaw during a so-called routine control by police officers.


On May 23, around 10:00 am, during a routine control of shoe and clothing dealers- deemed "business criminals" by the authorities- at Warsaw's main market, non-uniformed police officers brutally arrested one of the sellers. Witnesses of the arrest, surprised by the unusual level of police violence, began calling on officers to regain calm. In reaction, one of the officers fired at 36 year-old Maxwell Itoya, a Pole of Nigerian origin, killing him on the spot. The police officer did not fire a warning shot in the air and the killing occurred in breach of legal procedure. All evidence reveals that Max did not provoke this radical act; he was not aggressive, rather, he called for peace and calm. The solidarity that Max showed towards his friends was answered by a lethal shot fired by a member of the police in his direction.

Max's murder caused outrage in the crowd. 32 persons were arrested and later charged with aggravated assault of police officers. Like many low-wage workers, Max sold goods at the market on the weekends in order to support his family. His legal status in Poland had been fully regulated for years. He left behind a wife and three children.

The majority of sellers at the Stadium market are immigrants. Similarly to many Polish migrants in the West, they are forced to leave their countries due to structural economic violence, hardship, armed conflicts and famine. These persons come to Poland seeking to live and work with dignity and equal opportunity.

Immigrants are often the objects of police, city government, border police and general state repression. After crossing the Polish- and now EU border- they are de facto categorized as "illegal," and it is only after torturous bureaucratic proceedings that they can formally enjoy full rights. Irrespective of this, the fundamental right to life was brutally taken away from Max under the absurd circumstances that took place a few days ago.

We will not tolerate this sort of behavior towards people of different skin color. We will not tolerate oppression, murder, or the arbitrary criminalization of immigrants. We demand justice and equal treatment of all human beings. No person is "illegal"! The right to life and free movement belongs to us all!

Please support Maxwell's family (:: Monika's account number here). We appeal for solidarity against this obvious act of racism and police violence.

Article published first in the solidarity page for Maxwell Itoya ::