Far-Right Polish Politician Finds Brooklyn Perch After Church Ouster
A far-right Polish nationalist whose planned appearance at a Brooklyn Catholic church was canceled amid protests took his act to a Greenpoint restaurant Wednesday night.
Robert Winnicki, the leader of the National Movement (Ruch Narodowy), a nationalist Polish political party, drew a crowd of about 100 that packed the French Epi restaurant, a little under a mile from St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.
Facebook posts had touted Winnicki’s appearance at the Humboldt Street church even after Brooklyn Diocese Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio canceled the speaking engagement Monday amid an uproar.
DiMarzio also nixed plans for speeches at St. Stanislaus Kostka and St. Frances de Chantal in Borough Park by Ewa Kurek, a Polish historian who has claimed some Jews collaborated with Nazis and enjoyed the German-occupied Polish ghettos of World War II.
The New York Archdiocese later canceled a stop at East Harlem’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel by Kurek, who gained kinder notices for a 1996 book she wrote about Polish nuns who saved Jewish children during the Holocaust.
As THE CITY reported this week, local activists sent a letter to DiMarzio, urging the Church to “stand up for the common good, working towards a more loving and cohesive society while remaining neutral within such mired politics.”
After receiving the letter and inquiries from THE CITY, DiMarzio canceled the speeches, saying he hadn’t been aware of them.
Journalists who tried to get into the Greenpoint Avenue restaurant Wednesday night were turned away. So was Kinga Marszal, a Polish immigrant who theorized she got kicked out because “I look too liberal.”
She said Winnicki’s embrace by some local Poles reflected what she called a disturbing rightward shift in her homeland. “It’s insane,” said Marszal, 38.
“I might leave Greenpoint,” added Marszal, who has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years. “It’s hard to explain to my American friends what’s been going on with Polish people here.”
One man who made it inside said he wanted to hear what Winnicki had to say. “Where there’s politics, there’s controversy,” said the man, who identified himself only as “Peter” and noted he’s lived in the U.S. for 20 years.