Greenpoint’s Father Popieluszko Monument Desecrated

The statue of Father Jerzy Popieluszko has once again been vandalized. (Photo by Wojtek Masklanka via Nowy Dziennik)

Unknown vandals spread paint over the Greenpoint monument of the famous Polish martyr and the chaplain of the Solidarity movement – the blessed Rev. Jerzy Popieluszko. Red paint obliterated the face of the statue causing outrage among Greenpoint residents. It is not clear when the act of vandalism happened. It is presumed to have taken place the night of April 20.

Mieczyslaw Pajak, president of the New York chapter of the John Paul II Foundation, called 311 and asked for assistance in cleaning up the paint. “I want to meet with the Parks and Recreation representatives and ask them to install cameras near the monument,” said Pajak, whose association has for many years organized commemorative events near the Father Popieluszko monument.

Also outraged by the incident were members of the Friends of Father Popieluszko Square, who take care of the monument and its surroundings. One of the representatives of the organization said that she would talk to the police to see if it would be possible to classify the incident as a hate crime, like was in the case with the historical mural on the wall of Greenpoint’s Polish National Home on Driggs Avenue which was damaged with graffiti more than two years ago. She explains that the face of the bust of Father Popieluszko was obliterated with red paint, which symbolizes a communist regime, of which the priest was one of the most vocal opponents. She also points out that the act of vandalism happened just before Jerzy Popieluszko’s name day [April 24] and the unveiling of another Polish symbol in Greenpoint – a newly renovated monument of Father Joseph Studzinski, from which, in 2011, unknown thieves stole a brass commemorative plaque.

The police do not have any concrete leads as to who may have been behind the act of vandalism. “The red color may indicate someone with leftist views, inimical to Father Popieluszko. It once happened years ago, when the monument’s head was torn off and someone spray-painted on it ‘For Lenin and Stalin’ [in Polish],” said Pajak.

Some unofficial sources indicate the desecration may have been done by a Polish homeless woman, who may be mentally unstable, and lives in the nearby McCarren Park.

At the beginning of May the monument was cleaned. However, the red paint penetrated the stone and streaks of it are still visible. Some believe that only a professional conservator or a sculptor will be able to remove it entirely.

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