burst of street protests and clashes with ZOMO teams, most Poles had retreated to the confines of their homes to monitor events. As the hours flashed by and the Polish government remained on the sidelines, factions of citizens were organizing themselves for future protests. The air of uncertainty that settled in across Poland was not helping to revive momentum and push Poles back into the streets. Jaruzelski maintained a low profile since his speech and now questions were being raised about whether or not Poland’s leader was experiencing cold feet.
Gdansk ended the discussions and galvanized the majority of Poles into action. Early in the morning, rumors spread across the land about Soviet troops invading the port city. As time went on these rumors were confirmed mostly through Solidarity members. State media said little about Gdansk, except to report that Soviet and Polish military forces were arriving to help the city officials restore order. Beyond that, nothing further was said by the media. The government remained silent on the topic throughout the day.
By late morning, however, Poles were taking to the streets in a number of cities and towns. Demonstrations, small at first, were coming to life. In Warsaw, nearly 20,000 citizens had gathered in the center of the city by noon. That number steadily increased as the afternoon went on. The demonstrations in the capital were peaceful. As the crowds surged, police and security troops wisely kept out of the way. There were even defections taking place with over a dozen officers shedding their uniforms and joining the protests. It took time, but by mid-afternoon the Warsaw protesters were calling for the withdrawal of all Soviet soldiers from Poland. Free elections were also a demand that was gaining momentum as day went on.
The demonstrations and protests did not remain peaceful everywhere. In some towns and cities there were clashes, caused in some cases by belligerent protesters or pro-Soviet police and security troops. In Minsk-Mazowiecki, demonstrators overwhelmed the local police and stormed the train station. Police and ZOMO teams were driven out of Wroclaw by legions of demonstrators, some of whom were armed. Wroclaw was not the only city to deal with a situation like that. Around Poland, local governments aligned too closely with Moscow and the Soviet Union were losing control of their areas, with the exception of Gdansk and regions that were home to Soviet military installations.
Reluctantly, Moscow was losing its hold on Poland and with every passing hour the cracks in the Warsaw Pact grew wider.