Holocaust conspiracy theorists met with cookies after crashing progressive candidate’s campaign launch

September 10, 2019 Kelly Mena
Candidates Victoria Cambranes offers cookies to Polina United protesters. Photo by Patrick Bobilin

A fringe group of Polish nationalists promoting a bizarre Holocaust conspiracy theory protested the City Council campaign launch of a Greenpoint resident who previously thwarted their activities. But instead of clashing with counter-protesters, the candidate greeted them with chocolate butter cookies.

The fringe group Polonia United protested Victoria Cambranes, candidate for City Council District 33 — which spans Boerum Hill, the Navy Yard, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Fulton Ferry, Greenpoint, Vinegar Hill and Williamsburg — on Sunday at the Boiler Room.

The protesters — who were allegedly organized by far-right activist Witold Rosowski — were supposedly getting retribution for Cambranes’ opposition to local speaking events in June, according to the 32-year-old candidate.

Witold Roseski, in blue, led the protest, according to Cambrenes. Photo by Maurice Narcis
Witold Roseski, in blue checkered shirt, led the protest, according to Cambranes. Photo by Maurice Narcis

Rather than retreat, Cambranes stepped outside and thanked the protesters for coming and offered them cookies.

“I wanted to show that hatred must be neutralized with kindness, not further antagonization,” Cambranes told the Eagle. “I am a pacifist, and believe that acts of decency are the best way to rise above hate. In this case, it worked. After, I thanked the protesters in Polish for their participation and attendance, they left confused and disillusioned shortly thereafter.”

Cambranes and other local activists blocked a church tour of three far-right Polish nationalist speakers in June due to their anti-Semitic rhetoric. Though the venues ultimately shut the group out, the headline speaker, Robert Winnicki, known for his right-wing, nationalistic ideology, was still able to give his speech to a crowd of supporters at a local restaurant, despite the setback.

The group espouses views by Ewa Kurek that distort Holocaust history, claiming that the Jewish people collaborated with the Nazis to kill Polish people, and voluntarily lived in ghettos.

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“There was backlash and they chose to single me out,” Cambranes told the Brooklyn Eagle.

The protesters on Sunday held up signs demanding that Jewish people apologize for their supposed involvement in killing Polish people.

Polina United protesters in front of the Boiler Room, where Cambranes officially launched her campaign. Photo by Patrick Bobilin

Since opposing the June speaking tour, Cambranes said she’s received threats of electric chairs and bombs. Ahead of the event, she called in the 94th Precinct to keep the group outside.

Polonia United did not respond to requests for comment.

Cambranes, a native Brooklynite of Polish and Guatemalan descent, officially launched her campaign for City Council over the weekend with a three-pronged platform focused on the issues of affordable housing, climate change and street safety in the northern Brooklyn community.

Her platform hopes to build on the growing left-leaning progressive movement in the area. In 2018, the neighborhoods that comprise District 33 elected Democratic Socialist and insurgent candidate Julia Salazar to the State Senate.

Cambranes’ top priority is housing through the “Considerate Construction Plan,” which aims to stop the booming real estate development sweeping across the city. Specifically, the 32-year-old plans to reject all rezonings and real estate subsidies in favor of creating low-to-moderate affordable housing to prevent displacement of longtime residents.

“It’s pretty clear that affordable housing doesn’t work, especially when the people that it was meant to keep in the neighborhood have been displaced because of it,” said Cambranes. She supports establishing housing cooperatives and land trusts, as well as deepening investment in public housing.

The second prong, called the “Environmental Sustainability Plan,” will look to implement construction methods and infrastructure that coincides with the pace of the borough’s growth. In particular, the plan aims to look at Superfund sites like the Gowanus Canal as resources and not blockades toward the future of development in the area.

“We’re a waterfront district, we’re surrounded on three sides by water. We’re completely unprotected and our infrastructure is actually degrading further in terms of sustainability because we are building all these giant glass towers that are really environmentally unfriendly,” Cambranes said.

The “Public Safety Plan,” the third prong, will prioritize protecting pedestrians and cyclists beyond the Vision Zero initiative and, locally, will target Grand Street, Franklin Street and the BQE exit onto Tillary Street.

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