Poland vs. LGBT. What happened to Linus?

Linus Lewandowski is a political activist affiliated with organizations defending the rights of LGBT people. He takes part in demonstrations defending LGBT people from the extreme right attacks. He also took part in demonstrations against the arrest of Margot. He was arrested and held in hiding by the police. In his opinion, the police behaved disastrously, but he thinks that the social side won the dispute.

It was worth it. It was worth doing it. We won’t be intimidated”, Linus says.

Linus has a principle: “When the state doesn’t protect us, I will protect my sister.”

According to him, the police did not tell the truth during the night after Margot was arrested on August 7-8. He tells us for the first time what happened to him. An earlier version of this article was published by Onet.pl.

“I want the public to take an interest in this. We’ve received strong support from people who haven’t been involved so far. Many of our friends and politicians who have not yet spoken are no longer neutral“.

As he says, he fights “for equal treatment of all people by the state and against human rights violations as Margot rights were violated“.

Linus is arrested in Warsaw
Photo by: Karol Grygoruk, Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/CDmpti-HIaE/

This is a record of how the police treated him on 7 and 8 August 2020.

Introduction, or Margot’s arrest

On Friday, August 7 in the afternoon Margot is to be arrested. In her defence, a large crowd gathers in the Krakowskie Przedmieście street in the centre of Warsaw. Margot is ready to surrender herself to the police, but the officers will not arrest her. The fact that the police does not arrest her at once is considered by the group of her supporters a victory.

As it soon turns out, the sense of success is illusory. But for now this temporary victory provokes the crows to go “to the Jesus“, i.e. to the Church of the Holy Cross where a monument of Jesus is standing in front of the church, to hang a rainbow flag there, again.

The policemen are already there. One of them catches Margot and wants to take her out by force.

Linus, the hero of our today story, is also on the spot. He starts defending her.

After a while, an unmarked car drives up. Men jump out of it in civilian clothes. They pick up Margot. None of them wears police outfits, no badges are visible. It looks like a kidnapping in broad daylight in the middle of the nation’s capital.

Interestingly, no one out of a few hundred people comes to call the police and report a kidnapping.

The LGBT community no longer trusts the police, and when attacked by nationalist right-wing extremist groups, they begin to defend themselves against hate and oppression.

Margot is already in the car. The driver wants to go. Demonstrators want to block him. A few people are going up on the roof of the car, including Linus.

They say they did it to stop the car from leaving. They want to fight for Margot, like it’s a battle.

The kidnappers get support from police officers in uniforms. They start pulling demonstrators off the car.

Linus grabs the frame of an open window. Someone inside closes it to cut his fingers off. Linus grabs the car’s antennae.

When the cops pull him away from the car, he holds the antennae in his hands.

Demonstrators block the car. They want to win this dispute at all costs. They sit in front and behind the car. Linus sits down too.

Nothing happens for some 20 minutes. The police are regrouping, ready for a new strike. Officers are starting to pull people out of the blockade. One by one, “like they’re weeding weeds.”

Once the obstacles are removed, the car moves and disappears.

Act 1. Linus’ arrest

Someone tells Linus that the police are keeping an eye on him, that they want to stop him. He runs away for a while, but comes back, curiosity wins with fear. “I want to support my sisters in the fight,” he says later. The police surround a group of demonstrators, outside the ring there is still some 500 people.

When the cops take one of the girls in handcuffs to the police car, Linus runs up again, wants to help her. An unmarked man throws him to the ground.

Linus tries to get away, but there are 10 men fighting him now. “Ten for one is a bunch of bald men,” he thinks. They’re fighting for a while. One cop presses Linus’ head to the ground with his knee. “Leave my head,” shouts Linus, remembering the recent events in America. The policeman lets go, but soon another one does the same thing. They have him.

They twist his hands, put him in handcuffs. Painfully, in the wrong way.

They do it very strangely. First they twist his hand back, and when he pulls out the other one, giving in to the policeman, he put handcuffs on his hands folded in a gomukhasana (cow face pose).

They’re packing Linus into the police car. He screams that the handcuffs are cutting into the body. It takes a few minutes to change the clasp.

Act 2. At the Wilcza Police Station

Linus wants to talk to his lawyer. “Later”, they say. The car’s departure is blocked for a while by the demonstrators, probably someone lies down in front of the car, but after a while the car is on its way to Wilcza Street.

On the spot they are waiting for a while in a police car. There are many other people “to take care of”. Finally Linus is subjected to a personal inspection. He goes with a policeman to a small room. He undresses naked and has to do two sit-ups. It doesn’t scare him.

It’s different for the other arrested. He says the naked sit-ups are used to see if something’s hidden in his anus. But it’s strange that the police are using procedures designed for people smuggling drugs against political demonstrators. What could they have in their anus? Or, what was the true meaning of this? Maybe to humiliate normal people who are not criminals and just fight for respect for their civil rights?

Maybe it is meant as intended torture for transgender people for whom the body is a particularly sensitive issue?

You’ve met your match”, Linus won’t let it disturb him. He notices something else: not all the policemen at the station like what they see. There are also LGBT people among the police officers and prison guards, after all.

Police takes photos of Linus because he has no ID on him. There are bruises on his face. He is locked in a temporary cell for 20 minutes. The cops take him upstairs to prepare a detention report. Linus is requesting to contact his lawyer. The cops are ignoring him for an hour and a half. They ask “do you confesses,” but he doesn’t know to what, as no one’s charged him with anything yet.

He finally says he won’t say anything without a lawyer. The cops call the number he gave them. Linus hears his lawyer Adam is asking on the phone if he wants to talk to him. He answers to the cops that he does, but sits too far away for Adam to hear him. The cop tells the lawyer that Linus doesn’t want to see him. After the phone call, the policeman informs the detainee that “the lawyer will come or not,” Linus does not know what Adam told the policeman.

Rafał (left) and Linus (right) in August 2020.

Rafał is Linus’ boyfriend. They live together, they recently moved into a new apartment. Recently there was an interview with them published in “Replika”, a leading Polish LGBT community magazine. Rafał suspects that Linus has been arrested. Thanks to an atypical first name, a policeman confirms to him relatively quickly that yes, Linus is at the station. “The one with the odd name” is easily remembered by the policeman.

Linus gets the protocol to sign. It says that he doesn’t complain about the police arrest. He informs the officers that he won’t sign it because he intends to make such a complaint. He wants to delete this sentence, but the police won’t agree.

The negotiations end with Linus’ complaint. The cops still want him to give a reason for a complaint. Linus doesn’t want to give any reason without first consulting his lawyer. So they write that no reason is given for the complaint.

Linus signs the protocol. They have him, but he still defends himself.

The police escorts Linus to a temporary cell on the ground floor. In the chaos, so many procedures are broken that many will want to forget about this day. So far, the leading officer has forgotten to take the handcuffs off, and Linus has forgotten to remind him. There are three people without handcuffs in the cell and Linus – handcuffed.

Only after a while, as if he was intoxicated, he notices it. He starts screaming in his own style: “Hey, why don’t somebody take it off?”

Patience, kindness and courtesy are not allowed at the police station tonight. The cops there are not responding to the noise from the cell.

After some 15 minutes the cop notices he is missing handcuffs, and he has to account for each pair. He goes back to Linus and uncuffs him.

In the cell one can hear shouts from outside “Release the detainees!” After several minutes the shouts suddenly stop.

Later it turns out that during this time a solidarity demonstration is taking place in front of the station. The police vans arrive again. The police call to split up.

Dozens of policemen run out and knock out a few selected demonstrators. They take them to the cars and drive away.

The remaining  are informed by the police that they will be detained if they do not leave now. The protest is chased away. Linus doesn’t know any of this, that the people outside are there because of him and other detainees.

The entire day seems like it is a regular dispute with the police. As if this is a regular dispute with the authorities. As if the police are no longer impartial. As if the police are no longer a civil force. As if the police are now a political force. This is something Linus knows all too well.

Act 3. At Nowolipie and the 3 am lie

Finally, it is decided that the “political” arrestees of the cell, of which there are three, will be transported for the night to another police station, the Mostowski Palace on the Nowolipie street, where the Capital Police Headquarters is located.

Once here, Linus is placed in a two-person cell with another “political” prisoner, who was simply the wrong person at the wrong time at the wrong place.

They want to fall asleep, but the light is on all night. “A damn light”, Linus thinks. Each gets a mattress, a sheet, a blanket, but all these things don’t look like they were changed or washed daily, despite the coronavirus pandemic. Linus asks if the light can be turned off. “No!”, he hears in response.

In the too bright cell he thinks of his nearest and dearest person, Rafał. They know each other very well now, they have been getting to know each other for several months. They proposed to one another and consider themselves fiancés. Since they know almost everything about each other and… keep an eye on one another all the time. Linus follows Rafał’s whereabouts on his phone and vice versa. A family joke consisting of two maths nerdy minds. And now it’s impossible, Linus’ phone has been confiscated.

Linus doesn’t know where Rafał is, but he knows that Rafał can’t sleep since he doesn’t know where Linus is and what happens to him. “He certainly can’t sleep”, he’ll tell later about his loved one.

He estimates that he arrived in the Mostowski Palace about midnight and falls asleep before 1 am.

He is unhappy with his lawyer’s attitude. “He should talk to me! I warned him I’d probably need him.” He is slightly offended, yet they have known each other for years: “but it’s Friday night, maybe he’s gone clubbing, he’ll probably come tomorrow”. Finally he falls asleep.

Ever since Linus’ arrest Rafał leaves no stone unturned in town looking for his partner. He convinces Adam the lawyer that Linus needs help, no matter whether he wants it or not.

However, the police do not want to tell anyone Linus’ and the other detainees whereabouts. Lawyers, opposition MPs, activists are looking for detainees. Through the window of the police station post, opposition liberal MP Klaudia Jachira reads the names of the detainees kept in the stations to the worried relatives.

This is how also Rafał finally finds about his fiancé being transported to the Mostowski Palace.

Agnieszka-Dziemianowicz-Bąk’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/AgaBak/status/1291883214747967488

However, at 3 am the Mostowski Palace police officers inform another opposition social-democrat MP Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bąk and Linus’ lawyer that no one from the demonstration is kept here. Moreover, they indicate that Linus is in the police custody on Wilcza street. On the Internet it is advertised that he is one of the few missing persons.

Meanwhile, Linus is trying to sleep behind the wall, with the light on.

The MPs leave after 3 am. A moment later, the activists looking for their missing ones are concerned: how is this possible? After all, there are no beds for detainees in the police station on Wilcza street. No one can be there. What is this all about? Where are the people? Some begin to have nightmare scenarios playing in their heads.

Act 4. Saturday morning

A morning breakfast. Linus is up and gets a sandwich and a half, a toast and pâté. The 27-year-old says the sandwich certainly doesn’t meet the statutory 780 calories. He has been hungry all night. He’s still hungry after breakfast. In the cell there was only water during the night.

The hungry guy’s shooting a gun. For example, he’s bored. In the cell he can borrow newspapers, there are books, brought privately by a guard, and 20 issues of “Men’s Health”. But how can a millennial and a IT scientist by profession stand without a phone this long?

Lunch is richer now, but Linus is still hungry. “A hungry Linus is a bad Linus.” Many people are. He gets a potato soup with meatballs. The warden gives him an extra slice of bread. Linus will remember this gesture. There’s so little ordinary human kindness in these walls, and yet this palace was a literary-music parlor only 200 years ago.

The police say that after lunch, representatives of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights are to come by. Confusion, as after two hours there is a meeting with a couple of lawyers, but from the Ombudsman’s Office. They talk to Linus, he tells them about the bad light at night, about the arrest, about the photos, they ask about his lawyer access. They ask why Linus is without a T-shirt. A moment later, he gets a sweatshirt from the guards, which will be useful as a pillow.

Linus gets nervous that time is running out and his lawyer is still not coming by. Suddenly he hears a familiar voice. He walks to the door. Clearly this voice belongs to Adam, Linus’ lawyer. Then the voice goes silent. “Do I have visions?” What is the matter, Linus is not sure any more if it was Adam? And if so, why did he go away and not talk to his client?

Meanwhile, there’s a search party outside the police station since this morning. The police still don’t inform anyone where he is.

Rafał points out how important the informal circulation of information is between the Ombudsman’s Office and the offices of opposition MPs. People exchange information on an ongoing basis, who is where and what is happening.

Finally, Linus is identified by the representatives of the Ombudsman, and the office of MP Magdalena Biejat is informed, who then notifies the party members, and those will tell Rafał. A gigantic weight is lifted off Rafał’s shoulders. The chain ends with Linus’ attorney who receives the memo at 2 pm. “It was fast anyway, Linus’ characteristic outfit – shirtless – helped” – says Rafał.

Act 5. Interrogation, court, prosecutor

After 4 pm Linus and the policemen go back to the police station on Wilcza Street for questioning. He finally meets with a defender on the spot. Two looks into each other’s eyes and both already know: Adam knows that Linus wanted to meet with him. Linus knows that his friend did not leave him alone. The lawyer found out about this hearing only 40 minutes earlier.

During the hearing Linus refuses to explain. A moment later, the court informs him that it wants Linus to appear as soon as possible for the hearing on his complaint about the arrest. Only now does the surprised lawyer finds out that Linus has complained about his detention at all. The lawyer goes to court separately and Linus is accompanied by the police.

None of them has the time to prepare. The hearing before the judge is less than 20 minutes short; the break before the sentence is pronounced lasts some 40 minutes.

Linus can finally eat something, he’s finally not hungry.

The court’s decision is as follows: the police had the right to arrest him, but they did it wrongly. In particular, the irregularity is that Linus had no access to a lawyer for 20 hours after the arrest.

But the court does not release Linus. After the court, his is going back to Wilcza. In front of the court, handcuffed Linus will give his fiancé a kiss. They see each other for the first time since the arrest.

Here there is an information that the prosecutor wants to see him at the police station. Nobody knows why. If the prosecutor finds time, he’ll go see him today. There’s an hour waiting for prosecutor’s decision to see Linus. Finally, the prosecutor has the time.

It’s Saturday night, Linus’ friends lose hope the prosecutor will take care of him today. They think Linus will spend another night at the police station. Tired of waiting for good news, they all go home.

Linus’ lawyer finds out about the prosecutor hearing 30 minutes before it starts. He turns the taxi around, rushes to the meet up.

The prosecutor invites Linus to the interrogation. Like before, Linus declines.

When the prosecutor fills in the forms, he informs Linus that he is about to take a decision about the police’s motion, not to mention what the motion is about. It turns out that no one has informed Linus that the police request for him to be subject of police supervision. Linus’ lawyer says they want to make a statement on the motion. The prosecutor is not satisfied, but he agrees. In his statement, the lawyer indicates that the supervision is unnecessary. Moreover, in its justification earlier today the court decided that there is no suspicion of escape.

The prosecutor’s decision is: police supervision.

At 10 pm, Linus leaves the prosecutor’s office. He’s free after 26 hours. He greets Rafał, who didn’t sleep a wink during those 26 hours.

They’re home at 11:00 pm. on Saturday. They go to sleep hugging.

Et alors?

There is no happy end.

A week later, August 15, Rafał and Linus are returning home in the evening. “We were just attacked because we were holding hands. I have a broken tooth and a black eye, Rafał has bruises. The offenders run away”, Linus writes on Facebook showing a selfie with his face injured:

Linus on Facebook, August 15.

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