November 11th

Fireworks, firecrackers and other visual and sound effects – but this time it was not New Year’s Eve. Yesterday I had an opportunity to participate in Independence Day March. Peculiar experience. Lots of things happened during those few hours. On the one hand flying flares, pieces of  sett and Molotov cocktails, on the other water cannons, pepper gas and rubber bullets. Poland. Where the unbelievable happens. If some of you miss some adrenaline in your daily life, visit us next year and give yourself a try as a reporter.

It all begun peacefully and ended like it always does. I started to photograph in front, talked to the participants of the event, march guards. The atmosphere seemed to be a little bit dense, but I didn’t notice any serious incidents. After I arrived at George Washington’s roundabout I witnessed something I saw while browsing the pictures from previous years. Photographing a regular war between hooligans and police requires a lot of sense of the situation and self preservation. I started behind a police line. Molotov cocktails and stones where whistling around my head. By that moment I realized why so many photographers wear helmets. I was shooting a picture just to hide behind a bus stop or a rubbish bin a second later. The front line was constantly moving one way or another. The police officers were cramming in handcuffs those they could and bringing them out. I run towards Zieleniecka avenue. The police was firing water cannons towards hooligans, who were replying with crushed sett and flares. I joined the hooligans. Walking out there with a camera was not easy. Usually if they notice a camera it is a good reason for them to focus their aggression towards other than police enemy. Wearing a black jacket and a hood, holding a black camera gave me a fake sense of safety. Better than nothing. Good that I don’t use Canon with its light grey lenses, I thought. Around people were tearing out pieces of sett, breaking them into smaller pieces and throwing towards police who replied with water cannons and pepper gas. I coughed and run 50 meters forward along with hooligans just to withdraw when the water cannons fired again. I heard shots. Rubber bullets.I run down the hill to hide from the line of fire. Then few times again up and down, forwards and backwards. After few tries when I gathered the material, I came back home. Tired.

Rober Capa once said – If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough. I was. You can see the photographs from yesterday below.

(c) 2014 Tomasz Przychodzień. All rights reserved

This post is also available in: PL