Pawel Adamowicz: Rest in Peace

Dear Personal Democracy Forum and Civic Hall community:

Some of you may have heard that Pawel Adamowicz, the Mayor of Gdansk, Poland, was brutally stabbed to death two days ago while on stage during a popular charity fundraising event. Ironically the event was focused on raising money for medical equipment for local hospitals and for blood banks. It has been reported that he was stabbed by a deranged man angry that he was jailed for bank robbery when the political party that Adamowicz belonged to until 2015, Civic Platform, was in power nationally.

What you may not know is that Adamowicz was Personal Democracy Forum’s sponsor for the last 5 years for its annual conference in Poland. Adamowicz, beloved by his constituents, was a political target of the ruling Law and Justice party, and overwhelmingly won re-election last year. As a young man, Adamowicz was one of the organizers of the 1988 nationwide strikes that forced the Polish government to recognize the Solidarity movement and began the transition to democracy. He then was elected to Gdansk’s city council in 1990, and since 1998 had been serving as the city’s mayor.

He was not only a champion for open government, civic engagement, but publicly defended immigrants, the gay community, and Jews at a time when Poland is struggling with rising populism and racism. Adamowicz recognized the Personal Democracy Forum community as his “tribe” and embraced us fully by offering us the use of the world famous Solidarity Museum and conference center for our annual event. He also hung welcome banners for PdF from all the light posts along the city’s beautiful canals and came to every year to make a welcome speech to open each year’s convocation.  

He also made time for me personally taking me each year to dinner where he would ask to hear about what other people and organizations were doing in the PdF community in the United States and elsewhere. We would talk technology, about our lives, our families, and our hopes for truly pluralistic Polish society governed by the politics of hope, not fear. I will miss him as a friend and Poland will miss him as a leader.

His untimely death has caused an outpouring of public mourning. Watch and make sure to listen to this video to the end:

It was recorded yesterday evening in Gdansk where several hundred thousand people gathered. As you listen to the local choir which turned “The Sounds of Silence” into a powerful anthem against hate and complacency, you can feel that people who are there are not only mourning the loss of their Mayor. For his sake and the sake of the Polish nation, let’s hope the anthem becomes theirs and by extension ours too.

Pawel Adamowicz, rest in peace.