A Brooklyn restaurant owner said her staff was blindsided when a Polish nationalist politician showed up with 100 followers Wednesday — spurring a backlash that may force her to permanently close.
“There was someone there who shouldn’t be and no one was expecting,” the woman, who asked not to be identified by name, told THE CITY through tears. “I don’t have nothing [to do] with this, I didn’t do anything… I don’t even agree with this.”
“We are not evil,” she added. “We didn’t do anything to bring this guy.”
Robert Winnicki, leader of the National Movement (Ruch Narodowy), a nationalist Polish political party, spoke at French Epi in Greenpoint after being barred from nearby St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.
The restaurant’s manager, Jolanta Filip, said she received a reservation for 15 Wednesday night. Filip and her mother were the only two people working when a huge crowd rolled in to the small restaurant.
“In a matter of 15 minutes, we had a full house,” she said. “We weren’t prepared for this mass of people.”
More than 100 people packed into French Epi, overwhelming the staff. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY
Filip said she called the owner, who told her to eject Winnicki and his supporters. But the crowd — which threw out two journalists from THE CITY — wouldn’t leave.
“We are not a platform for anything,” added Filip, a single mother of three who was hoping to buy the restaurant from the recently widowed owner. Continue reading →
Catholic officials on Monday abruptly canceled speeches by two right-wing Polish figures at Brooklyn churches after local leaders’s protest letter to Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and inquiries by THE CITY.
Meanwhile, Polish far-right politician Robert Winnicki was also set to appear at St. Stanislaus Kostka. He’s the leader of the “National Movement” (Ruch Narodowy), a nationalist Polish political party.
But as anger over the events spread over the weekend, local activists drafted 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.” Continue reading →
Over the past couple of weeks, you might have spotted a poster around Greenpoint promoting a Polish protest.
Last Sunday, Polish nationalist demonstrators gathered in Manhattan’s Foley Square to protest the U.S.’s passage of the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act, which became law last year and calls for Holocaust survivors and their families to receive compensation for their seized and stolen property during World War II. Continue reading →
When Greenpointers received a tip last week that someone was allegedly passing out flyers identifying hate symbols following the discovery of hate stickers on McGuiness Blvd, we posted an image of the flyer to Instagram and began to receive many messages from local Polish residents that the Kotwica symbol should not be placed in the same category as the Swastika and other hate symbols. We also received messages insisting that the far right in Poland has recently used patriotic symbology during rallies, including the Kotwica. The local debate even received the attention of staff at the Polish Consulate in New York and the Greenpoint-based Polish and English radio station and news site, Radio Rampa, posted on the matter.
It’s a fact that the Kotwica is a symbol of the underground Polish resistance fighters who fought against Nazi occupation in the 1940s. The symbol to commemorate the resistance fighters is also found in Greenpoint on a flag during summer months at the Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union on McGuiness Boulevard and on a mural on Eckford Street around the corner from the Warsaw music venue.
Graffiti with the words “Wielka Polska” (Great Poland in English) and the Celtic cross, which according to the Anti-Defamation League is one of the most common white supremacist symbols, appeared at the Kent St. entrance to Transmitter Park next to East River Studios, where the Showtime production “Billions” is currently filming.
The hate symbol appeared on Monday morning following the Nov. 11, Polish Independence centennial celebration of “Sto Lat,” which also marks the end of World War I in 1918.
This Sunday Nov. 11, marks the centennial of Polish independence, and a series of cultural events in NYC will mark the occasion over the next two weeks. “Sto lat” translates to “100 years” in Polish and is the common phrase to wish someone happy birthday.
The U.S. helped secure Poland’s independence at the end of World War I when President Woodrow Wilson expressed America’s support for a Polish state in his Fourteen Points peace plan. Today, Polish and American relations are generally considered strong: President Andrzej Duda recently offered $2 billion toward constructing an American military base to be named “Fort Trump” in Poland.
Green Farms Supermarket (918 Manhattan Ave.) was one of the local stores my Polish-born wife and I regularly shopped to get authentic Polish food, but the store’s last evening of business was just two weeks ago. Though it had an American name, we never called it Green Farms. For us the market was “U Chlopakow” and it was a vibrant piece of Polish Greenpoint.
The shelves were almost empty because the prices had been slashed and sadly only a few cans of Polish food, some mineral water and Polish beer remained. The owners, though, had not liquidated the store for lack of business, but because as owners of the building, the temptation to sell out and retire comfortably proved too great to resist. Continue reading →
I was raised Catholic, so before I lived in Greenpoint I knew nothing about the beautiful Polish Easter custom of Święconka (pronunciation: shi’ven-tson-kah), meaning “the blessing of the Easter baskets.” On Saturday thousands of well-dressed Polish families will walk to either St. Stanislaw Kostka church on Driggs Avenue or Sts. Cyril and Methodius on Dupont Street with baskets in hand for one of the most colorful Polish traditions.
The holiday probably predates Christianity in Poland. Its original form began in the seventh century and today’s form dates from the twelfth. The food in each family’s basket is full of symbolic meaning. Poles carry eggs, which symbolize both Jesus and life. They also carry horseradish, which reminds them of the bitter suffering of Jesus on the cross. In addition, they carry bread, which is also a symbol of Jesus. The basket also contains salt, representing purity, as well as ham or kielbasa, which is symbolic of bounty and good times.
Poles will arrive at the church and say prayers of thanksgiving. The highlight of the prayer service is when the priest sprinkles holy water on the baskets. There’s a festive and joyful attitude amongst Poles on Saturday and Święconka remains one of the most colorful and authentic celebrations that defines the Polish community in Greenpoint.
One of the most delicious dishes in Polish cuisine is Bigos, or as it is sometimes called in English, Hunter’s Stew. For many Polish Greenpointers it’s a staple, but many locals still do not know about this fantastic cold weather dish. Extremely hearty and filling, it’s a stew that is perfect for a cold day. No one is entirely sure how the word bigos entered the Polish language, but some say that it comes from German begossen, meaning “doused” or “basted.” Another explanation is that it comes from Italian bigutta, or “pot for cooking soup.” But wherever it comes from, bigos is a delicious stew that is worth the wait in cooking it. Continue reading →
I suppose there are some Polish vegetarians, but not many. The Poles are largely a nation of carnivores and great butcher shops have defined Greenpoint for generations. No Polish butcher shop has been more popular than the West Nassau Meat Market located at 915 Manhattan Avenue, much more popularly known as Kiszka, but about three months ago it shut down without any explanation and no one seems to know much about its closure. The closure of the butcher has been a topic of intense speculation amongst the local Polish community. Continue reading →