Disability hate incident in Poland
We have recently been alerted about an alleged disability hate incident in Lodz, Poland.
This is an English translation of the orginal article published on Tokfm.pl radio website. To see original article, please go to TOKFM.PL website.
Witnesses: The head of disability department called disabled boy ‘a moron’
Henryk Brand, the head of disability department at MOPS (Council Centre for Social Help) in Lodz, has a very particular view about social help for disabled people. He told a Mother of several disabled children that ‘You are better off than others; nobody gets so much money for doing nothing’. On other occasion he called – according to the family and witnesses - a boy with learning disability ‘a moron with no perspectives’ and ‘a shit in my ass’. – ‘I didn’t use such words, however I need to admit that I got carried away’ – explains Mr. Brand.
40-years-old Pawel G., a participant of Occupational Therapy Workshops (WTZ) in one of associations in Lodz, has been crossed off from the WTZ participation list after he was not participating in the WTZ workshops due to several months stay in hospital. His place at WTZ workshops has been given to somebody else. According to Pawel’s family, crossing him off from the list was an illegal action.
In Lodz it is very difficult to get into WTZ workshops. There aren’t many around and participants ‘occupies’ places for several years. During WTZ workshops disabled people learn different crafts, how to deal with everyday life and make own choices (eg. They have a basic economy lessons to know how to manage money, bills, etc). Pawel was progressing during those workshops especially that his parents taught him how to read and write (now both are dead).
Monika Cichacz, Pawel’s aunt, went to MOPS to clarify the situation with WTZ workshops; she went directly to the head of disability department, Mr Brand. Before managing disability department in MOPS, Mr Brand was a director of Social Emergency Service, located at Krokus Street in Lodz, this centre earn itself a very bad reputation due to acts of violent between the pupils and no actions taken by any of the workers.
- Mr Brand told me, that all of the decisions regarding social help for disabled people are coming from him – said Monika Cichacz, a lawyer by profession. Women started to ask Mr Brand on what legal basis he crossed off her nephew from WTZ workshops and why wasn’t he accepted back. – Then the head of disability department got fully carried away and he started to scream. He said that Pawel is a shit in his ass and his time has finished and he had to be crossed off the list, as every moron with no perspectives for any future progress – Ms Cichacz describing – When I started to leave his office, I heard that I should f*** off from this building. Then he also added that all disabled people should be exterminated.
I heard some screams and I thought we had a robbery in the building
Witnesses to the exchange of opinions between Mr Brand and Monika Cichacz, were other clients of MOPS who were waiting for their turn to speak to Mr Brand. They were so stunned of what they heard that they offered Ms Cichacz to be key witnesses in any court trials to give evidence on what Mr Brand said about Pawel G and other disabled people.
- I heard some screams and I thought we had a robbery in the building. The head of disability department – as it turn out later – told this women, that somebody from her family was a shit in his ass and a useless freak – this is Mr Marek’s relation (his name was change for this article), he came to MOPS to request an individual therapy for his disabled brother – This guy behaved like he was a God, it was absolutely shocking.
Ms Ewa (her name was change for this article) came to MOPS for the referral for physiotherapy. – Mr Brand told me that before I will get referral we would need to burn somebody, however he forgot who he had in mind. I was stunned! – says women – he should immediately change his profession.
Monika Cichacz decided that she will sue Mr Brand. She is going to demand an official apology, a cash compensation that will go to a charity and that Mr bond should be immediately removed from his position – the behaviour of Mr Bond was unacceptable and it violated a dignity of my nephew and my family – explains Ms Cichacz.
Director of MOPS: the complaint is fare
Pawel’s aunt handed in an official complain on hands of MOPS General Director. Vice-director Jolanta Piotrowska investigated this incident and agreed that the complaint against behaviour of Mr bond is fare. ‘We have proceeded with disciplinary consequences against Mr Brand that hopefully will not allow similar accidents to happen in the future’ – MOPS’s answer in the official letter to Ms Cichacz.
‘Disciplinary consequences’ according to Ewa Sciborska, a disability liaison officer in the city council of Lodz, is a fare punishment for Mr Brand. – He received a big punishment for his behaviour and if he wasn’t a good office worker, then I am sure that MOPS Director would sack him with an immediate effect – thinks Ms Sciborska. Disability liaison officer stated that till now, she received only one complaint regarding any miss behaviour of Mr Brand.
The head of disability department does not feel comfortable in the presence of disabled people
All the funds from PFRON (National Fund for rehabilitation of disabled people) are distributed via MOPS. It’s because clients of this centre not only are disabled but in most cases are living in poverty. They fight for every penny in their life. Often they feel neglected and not strong enough to face office workers because they feel fully dependant on their decisions.
- The centre gave a second chance to the head of disability department but they don’t want to give any chances or help to disabled people – complaining Barbara Cichacz, Pawel’s sister. Among families of disabled people, Mr Brand has an opinion of an arrogant, unfavourable, nervous man who always gets angry just by the sight on a disabled person – highlights Miss Cichacz.
Henryk Brand did not want to talk to us. Before in the conversation with ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’ Newspaper he denied using such words – the truth is that I got carried away, this women made me really angry – he admitted. Why you didn’t agree to put the guy back into WTZ workshops? – WTZ workshops is not a nursery home, but it supports active social rehabilitation. It should increase the employability of participants. Mr Pawel G. participated in them for many years and never found a job, so in my opinion he do not have any perspective for further improvements and gaining employments. That’s why I decided to give his pace to young women who have a full perspective of gaining future employment – explains Mr Brand.
‘Those money aren’t here so you can go for holiday with all of your family’
Regardless his disciplinary warnings, Mr Brand did not change his attitude towards his clients. Sometime after, Ms Renata M came to his office. She felt powerless, because during previous visits, Mr Brand did not treated her well, therefore she decided to record this visit. She is a mother to several disabled children and she came to ask for funds for three personal assistants to go on rehabilitation holiday with her and her children. Mr Brand agreed for only on personal assistant. Ms Renata tried to convince him saying that herself she got a mild disability and she is afraid that she won’t be able to take proper care of all of her children by herself. This is a piece of their conversation:
Renata M – Why you won’t agree to assign personal assistants to all of my children?
Henryk Brand - Those money aren’t here so you can go for holiday with all of your family. I have enough of taking advantage of governmental funds! Are you taking what I am giving you or not? I am not going to discuss it with you. There will be only one assistant and that’s it. This trip costs as much as a trip for four normal people.
Renata M – Could you at least assign one more assistant? I am disabled myself, my husband is after serous operation and I am afraid for my children.
Mr Brand – And you are all the time on an up keeping of society. I am of an opinion that you should thanks the God that there are any state money available. You are better off than others; nobody gets so much money for doing nothing just for being beautiful and walking on this earth. You need to work f*** hard.
Mr Brand did not want to talk to me, journalist from TOK FM. When I visited him in his office, he shut the door in front of my nose. MOPS Director, which is direct supervisor for Mr Brand, regardless several requests, also refused to meet me, nether she wanted to talk on a phone. She did not meet me when I went to see her in her office. She told her secretary to pass me the message that if somebody feels harmed, they can always write a complaint.
The President: I will solve this issue
Krzysztof Piątkowski, vice-president of city council in Lodz and direct supervisor of MOPS – If Mr Brand said all of those words, then I can tell you straight away: there is no place for such a person in our council. We are living in XXI century, in democratic country; the council is for citizens and no other way round – highlight Mr Piatkowski. – If MOPS agreed that complain was justified, then it should not finish on disciplinary warning but MOPS should fire such worker – he added.
Complains about the behaviour and work of Mr Brand are coming to the council for years. They were sent by the Chairman of audit committee of Association of Children’s Friends in Lodz ‘Baluty’. Dariusz Stawicki without results keeps asking for the control in MOPS. He writes in one of the magazines ‘I have met with a statement that nobody will remove Mr Brand from his place. And lack of action after all of the complaints placed by the association seems to support those rumours, where they tolerate a worker who directly influences a bad opinion about city’.
- I am committing myself to solve this issue. If all of the allegation will be confirmed, then Mr Brand will be brought to justice and will suffer all the consequences of his actions, including being fired from the centre – stating Vice-president Mr Piatkowski.